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 - October to December 2005

30 December 2005


We must stand up to 'barbaric' BAA

Readers' Letters - Herts & Essex Observer - 29 December 2005

It is tempting to see John Prescott's massive housing plan for the so-called M11 corridor as one thing, and the proposed new runway as something separate, but it most be obvious that both emanate from the government and are intimately connected.

They represent nothing less than a radical scenario of social engineering to urbanise North West Essex and East Hertfordshire, opposing one without opposing the other makes no sense at all.

I wish people would stop using the word "will" when writing about second runway madness; the word should be "would" – because it is by no means in the bag. Every week brings some new damning evidence that the second runway scheme is a goner, so don't give up!

In spite of this, behind the scenes, BAA is allowed to buy out the opposition – why is this legal? The rape of Mole Hill Green and the brave defiance of its little old pub should arose the bulldog spirit in the rest of us – it certainly would if it was our village bought up by the cynical BAA, and out listed buildings and ancient monuments being bulldozed!

What Hitler's wartime planes never achieved, the destruction of our heritage and way of life seems OK for the peacetime planes of BAA – why should this be so, particularly when the scheme is not really about an extra runway, it is mostly about shops and cars.

The fact is that all this is proposed in order that this beautiful countryside could be covered with profit making car parks and shopping malls.

We cannot let BAA get away with claiming that its revised plan is actually greener than the last one. This is pure lies. The B in BAA clearly stands for Barbarians.

Let us all resolve that 2006 is the year this greed and madness is finally laid to rest.


Sandra Perry - Herts & Essex Observer - 29 December 2005

A former mayor of Bishop's Stortford has issued a rallying call for townsfolk to unite behind the fight for a second runway at Stansted.

Eric Marshall, an opponent of Stansted expansion for four decades, has highlighted how a promise made in Parliament by the Transport Secretary in 1985 that another landing strip would not be constructed in the future.

It was only on the basis of the "unequivocal declaration" by the government that the 80s inquiry inspector gave planning permission for Stansted to develop to 15mppa, he emphasised.

Mr Marshall, of Cannons Close was in Parliament on June 17th 1985 to hear secretary Nicholas Ridley say it had restricted expansion to the minimum necessary because of local concerns. The minister also stated "We have made it clear that no second runway should be built there".

Said Mr Marshall: "This was a planning application and they are planning conditions. Without those, the airport would not be what it is at the moment. It would not have had the first runway. This government is ignoring that".

The Inspector, Graham Eyre QC said in his decision statement that the recommendation for approval "is wholly contingent upon government making an unequivocal declaration of intention….that a second main runway will not be constructed at Stansted airport in the future. In the absence of such a declaration….I would recommend the application be refused".

MP Mark Prisk took current Transport Secretary to task over that very point when the Aviation White Paper was published in 2002.

Stop Stansted Expansion Director Carol Barbone said this week that the government had consistently refused to give its reasons why the situation had changed.

Mr Marshall, a former town and district councillor, also stressed that public money for associated infrastructure should not be used for the gain of a private company, which is what BAA was.


Pam Jenner - Saffron Walden Weekly News - 29 December 2005

Uttlesford District Council has warned Stansted airport that any plans to extend the use of the existing runway must be linked to environment and transport needs.

The airport will be submitting a planning application in the spring of next year to make full use of the current runway. This would mean extending the current 25 mppa limit up to around 35 mppa.

Uttlesford District Council has announced that it will be asking BAA to relinquish car parking spaces to demonstrate that the environmental impact on those living nearby will be reduced and to justify that economic and social implications are beneficial.

Council leader Mark Gaylor said: "The Council is making a clear statement to BAA that any planning application for extended use of the runway beyond 25 mppa will not be a walkover. The principles we have laid down address greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, the impact of local services such as train services so recently hit by the airport, and reduced car use for passengers and workers."

Leader of the conservative group, Councillor Jim Ketteridge said: "The Council is responding to the strong community opposition to more airport growth and has asked BAA to take this opposition seriously."

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "Uttlesford District Council's formal response to our public consultation on making better use of the existing single runway was received this week and it will be taken into account in the production of our planning application in the spring of 2006. We have received over 500 responses to the biggest public consultation exercise ever undertaken by BAA Stansted. A full report of the consultation will accompany our planning application."

OUR COMMENT: Why not before?

Pat Dale

30 December 2005


Lobby slams 'truly awful' rail service

Pam Jenner - Saffron Walden Weekly News - 29 December 2005

Furious rail passengers have launched a petition and formed a pressure group to protest at delays, cancellations and overcrowded trains on the Cambridge to Liverpool Street line. And, at the same time, drivers are locked in a battle with train operators over pay.

Proposed strike action has been suspended while driver's union Aslef considers an improved offer after demanding a 4.5% par rise and an increase in staffing levels.

The problems on the line, which has battled for years with ancient rolling stock and inadequate track capacity, were exacerbated with the introduction of One railway's new timetable on December 11th.

Rail Union Aslef claims the new timetables are relying on drivers doing voluntary overtime. Many have refused and as a result trains have been cancelled on a service that had already been reduced in the new timetable.

Passengers have now reformed SENTA, the Stansted, Elsenham and Newport travellers' Association, and Stansted Parish Council is to meet Mark Evans, the business manager for One, at the village day centre on January 18th.

A condition of the franchise when One took over from WAGN was that it operated four trains an hour from London to Stansted Airport. Local commuters claim the new time table has reduced trains between 7am and 9pm from Stansted Mountfichet to Liverpool Street from eight to four carriages in order to maintain the airport service.

Uttlesford Councillor Geoffrey Sell, who is also vice-chairman of Stansted Parish Council, said: "I am a regular commuter to London and the service provided by One has been truly awful. We have had cancellations, delays, over-crowding, dirty rolling stock and inadequate rolling stock. One has alienated its employees and its passengers and does not have sufficient drivers to implement the new time table."

Mr Sell said a petition would be circulated and SENTA would lobby for action on the service.

Sir Alan Haselhurst, Saffron Walden's MP, who has been campaigning for years to get more rolling stock and improved track capacity on the line, said: "The government can't have it both ways. It wants more trains running but it doesn't want them running on an antiquated track. The government also did not make a condition in the franchise that allowed for new rolling stock. We now have an inadequate track capacity, a mean minded franchise, no new rolling stock and an industrial dispute. I have shared the misery of the commuters and I am doing my very best to get things improved."

A spokesman for Aslef said the ballot for strike action would end on January 19th and added: "The management needs to look at staffing levels. Talks are continuing and there is still time for a solution to be found."

A spokesman for One said: "Some of the train drivers have adopted a policy of non-cooperation in respect of planned overtime working. This has resulted in the cancellation of a number of trains on a daily basis. We are hoping to resolve this issue quickly. We are bringing in additional staff and we have been talking to Aslef for some time regarding the pay review. We are looking to achieve a positive outcome. We believe that when the new time table is fully operational it will deliver better performance."

OUR COMMENT: Never forget that this state of affairs has been set off by the need of the airport to have a train every quarter of an hour to and from London, and this with 21 million passengers a year. The present limit is 25 mppa - what would happen with 35, 40, or even 80 mppa with a second runway? And Dft (Rail) have said - No more public money for track improvements and expressed the view publicly that the level of overcrowding on commuter trains would not reach unacceptable limits even if John Prescott's extra 60,000 houses were built in this part of the M11 corridor as well as 35 mppa at the airport. Someone has not done their sums correctly! Is BAA prepared to pay for their extra services?

Pat Dale

30 December 2005


Airport worker faces disciplinary for damage to plane

Herts & Essex Observer - 29 December 2005

A Stansted asirport worker has been suspended after causing thousands of pounds damage to a Ryanair Boeing 737 aircraft.

Colin Auger, a team leader for Swissport, the airport ground services provider, is due to find tomorrow what disciplinary action he faces. On December 4th, he misjudged his approach while driving passenger steps and hit a plane, causing damage to the wing.

The 33 year-old married father of two from Harlow, a member of the GMB union had a clean record and had never been involved in an accident.

Gary Pearce, GMB organiser said: "It's for Ryanair to look at the 25 minute turn around time required on their contract which causes ground staff to rush and accidents are much more likely. There could even be a case for saying that safety could be compromised in Ryanair's relentless pursuit of profit. Other companies at Stansted retrain staff, not discipline them in the event of accidental damage to aircraft. That, unfortunately, is not the Ryanair way and GMB is very concerned".

A spokeswoman for Ryanair said: "A Swissport employee drove a set of airport steps at speed into the left hand wing of an aircraft. This individual and this set of steps had no business being on the left hand side, nor can driving a set of steps at speed under a wing be described as "misjudgement". We object to the false and pathetic claims by the GMB since this accident, which was due to the breach of Swissport and Ryanair's safety procedures and had nothing to do with Ryanair's safety policies or our turnarounds."

Pat Dale

24 December 2005


Toby Allanson - Herts & Essex Observer - 22 December 2005

Outraged commuters from across the Observer district are fighting timetable changes which have prompted chaos on the rail network.

The new timings, which have seen complaints from passengers travelling from Great Chesterford, Audley End, Newport, Elsenham, Stansted Mountfichet and Sawbridgeworth on the Cambridge to Liverpool Street line, were introduced on December 11th.

A passenger action group was established at a meeting in Stansted on Saturday after Sarah Davies, of Chapel Hill, has 112 responses to a poster at the village station asking for passengers' horror stories.

She said: "It is quite clear this week has been chaotic and stressful for every passenger, with huge delays, short trains, overcrowding, inability to board trains due to sheer volume of passengers, excess number of trains cancelled, filthy rolling stock brought in to service, delayed commuter trains held inexplicably at stations for as long as 20 minutes to let late running airport trains pass and plenty more besides."

A petition, which will be distributed among train travellers, is now being launched, allowing people to vent their frustration. It will be presented to rail operator 'one's' business director Mark Evans at a meeting of Stansted Parish Council on January 18th.

The commuters have found an ally in the shape of train drivers' union ASLEF whose members are currently working only their contracted hours after pay talks collapsed.

Andy Reed, ASLEF's national coordinator said: "The new timetable is reliant upon drivers and other staff working on their rest days. The only way it could work is if our members worked overtime. The company hasn't prepared itself. It hasn't recruited sufficient drivers to support this new project."

As well as 'one', the DfT and BAA have both been blamed for the changes, which see an increase in Stansted express services to and from the airport while commuters suffer.

People working in Cambridge, London and Stansted airport as well as parents of children which rely on the train to get to school have all blasted the new timetable.

Anyone who would like to comment on the changes should email newtimetable@hotmail.co.uk

Anyone who has not had the opportunity to sign the petition and would like to should send their name, journey details, complaint, contact number and signature to "ONE" Travellers Petition, c/o Stansted Mountfichet Parish Council, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted, Essex, CM24 8AQ.

OUR COMMENT: Those who sent in comments on the original (badly advertised) consultation realised that the changes are for the benefit of travellers to the airport, and the rail infrastructure cannot carry both an improved airport service and still maintain the same commuter services. It certainly should not have to rely on compulsory overtime. What would happen if the passenger numbers increase to 35 mppa? One guess is that the present hourly scheduled Stansted Express stops at Bishop's Stortford and Harlow would soon cease. The new DfT Rail told the preliminary meeting of participants in the East of England Plan Inquiry that they believed that the present rail infrastructure could cope, possibly needing extra carriages, but it was also clear that they did not regard trains as overcrowded until all standing spaces were occupied as well as seats. Why should standing for up to an hour or more during your train journey to work be regarded as an acceptable situation? Are airport passengers also expected to stand? Or are they especially privileged?

Pat Dale

24 December 2005


'Half village homes to face bulldozers' shock

The Dunmow Broadcaster - 22 December 2005

BATTLE lines are being drawn after the shock realisation this week that more than half of the hamlet of Burton End, on the edge of Stansted, would be demolished for new airport car parks if BAA gets the go-ahead for its preferred scheme for the second runway.

Villagers have joined forces with campaigners to oppose the proposed second runway.

Stop Stansted Expansion members and Uttlesford district councillor Alan Dean visited the hamlet on Monday to meet residents and take part in a protest against BAA's plans.

Resident David Harrison said the airport operator's preferred option outlined in its consultation documents earlier this month would result in a car park hundreds of acres wide that would take away 33 Burton End houses, and leave 22.

Although his home would not be one of those affected, he said his neighbours were shocked their hamlet would be affected because they had largely assumed they would avoid the effects of the runway because Burton End had not fiigured in any previous plans.

He said: "The newcomers say we will force BAA to buy us out, whereas those who have been here longer want to stay and fight the proposals."

The hamlet had been largely untouched in previous plans for Stansted's future, but BAA's preferred eastern central parallel runway masterplan had put Burton End in the front line of the campaign against the airport's expansion.

Mr Harrison believed BAA wanted the extra parking because most of its money came from this source and the retail sector, when it should be looking to reduce the number of cars coming to the airport by getting people to use public transport instead.

Cllr Dean highlighted the threat to a nearby nature reserve. "The residents of Burton End are determined it will not become dead end!" he said. "Turner's Spring nature reserve is threatened. Thirty three homes would vanish under a car park. Another 22 outside of the fence would not be worth living in if BAA has its way."

"They might as well wipe out everything east of the M11! No wonder it is being rumoured that this meandering hamlet is being surveyed for security CCTV cameras."

"BAA must be expecting a grassroots revolt. I think that is what they are about to stir up with this outrageous landgrab."

"Who else but BAA would have the audacity to suggest building a car park next to a nature reserve?"

24 December 2005


EasyJet To Buy 20 Airbus A319s For Less than $900M

Aude Lagorce - The Business Online - 22 December 2005

LONDON (Dow Jones) - U.K. low-cost carrier easyJet plc on Thursday said it has exercised options to buy 20 Airbus A319 aircraft at a "substantial" discount to the $900 million list price.

The options stem from a 2002 agreement under which easyJet bought 120 aircraft and acquired the right to buy 120 more. Delivery of the 20 jets is scheduled for 2008 and 2009. To date, Airbus has delivered 59 of the 120 aircraft initially ordered.

The deal suggests easyJet is confident it will continue to post strong traffic growth. Traffic jumped 21% to 26.9 million passengers and the airline added 72 new routes in the fiscal-year ended Sept. 30.

Some analysts, however, are concerned low-cost airlines are biting off more than they can chew.

The three largest European no-frills carriers, Ryanair Holdings (RYAAY) , easyJet and Air Berlin, have a combined 300 medium-haul aircraft on order for delivery by 2010, with options for an additional 350.

Based on the industry calculation that each aircraft needs 250,000 passengers a year to break even, these three airlines will have to find 75 million new passengers just to cover these firm orders.

Airbus is 80% owned by European defense company EADS and 20% owned by the U.K.'s BAE Systems.

Although easyJet finances its fleet through a mix of bank lending and sale-and-lease back transactions, it said it hasn't entered into a financing deal as yet.

"The company intends to retain flexibility in determining the method of financing for these additional aircraft but expects that it will use a number of sources of debt finance and other financial structures in addition to easyJet's internal resources and cashflow," the airline said in a statement.

EasyJet shares were recently up 0.8% in London.

23 December 2005


Regulator rules out cross-subsidy for Stansted

Michael Harrison, Business Editor - The Independent - 21 December 2005

The airports operator BAA will not be allowed to cross-subsidise the cost of a new runway at Stansted by imposing higher charges on airlines using Heathrow and Stansted, the industry regulator said yesterday.

Instead, the Civil Aviation Authority indicated that BAA might be permitted to charge airlines at Stansted more during the construction phase of the project provided the money was repaid in later years.

BAA has cut its estimate of the cost of the project from £4bn to £2.7bn, and says the first phase of the scheme, enabling Stansted to increase capacity from 35 million to 50 million, could be ready by 2013 at a cost of £1.7bn.

Ryanair, the biggest operator at Stansted, accounting for 60 per cent of its traffic, claims this is still too expensive. It says a new runway could be built for £400m, and will fight attempts by BAA to construct "a gold-plated Taj Mahal". Attempts by the CAA to encourage "constructive engagement" between BAA and the users of Stansted on a future pricing formula have failed.

In its initial observations on the airport-charging formula for 2008-2013, the period which will cover the building of the runway, the CAA said each of BAA's three south-east airports would continue to be regulated on a "stand-alone" basis. This means Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick must each fund their investment needs from the airlines using the airport.

BAA initially said if this were the case then a second runway at Stansted would not be justified until several years after the target date of 2011/12 set out last year in the Government's airport White Paper. It then floated the idea of a "public interest levy" on airlines at Heathrow and Gatwick to help fund the expansion of Stansted, provoking a furious response from carriers such as British Airways, who face an increase in landing charges to pay for Terminal 5.

BAA said it believes the second Stansted runway could be funded on a stand-alone basis in time to open in 2013, provided it gets a "favourable settlement" from the CAA. Harry Bush, at the CAA, said it had been presented with no evidence that a move away from stand-alone regulation would be in the interests of airport users overall, and could put airports which compete with Stansted at an unfair disadvantage.

But the regulator said BAA might be allowed to test the appetite for the precise timing of when to build a runway at Stansted by being given the flexibility to increase landing charges by an extra amount during the 2008-13 period. The more airlines were prepared to pay, the better indication it would give BAA of the demand for a second runway. This could result in BAA bringing forward revenues due to be earned in the following five years, although these would have to be repaid.


Michael Harrison's Outlook - The Independent - 21 December 2005

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, has stopped talking to Mike Clasper, his opposite number at BAA, other than to despatch the odd expletive-strewn insult in his direction. The reason for his fury is the "obscene" sums Mr Clasper wants to spend building a second runway at Stansted, which is Ryanair's main base. Even though BAA has slimmed down its cost estimate from an initial £4bn to less than £2bn, at least for the first phase, Mr O'Leary still reckons this amounts to gold-plating of Taj Mahal proportions and is damned if he is going to foot the bill for such profligacy. Stansted's second biggest user, the other low-cost carrier easyJet, thinks much the same but has couched its objections in more diplomatic language.

The airports regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, had wanted the two sides to enter "constructive engagement" to agree on the level of landing charges necessary to finance the new runway. With any hope of this now out of the window it has fallen on the CAA to act as honest broker and set out how it thinks the new runway could be funded.

Even though Stansted's landing charges are not due to be re-set until 2008, the regulatory wheels grind mighty slow and yesterday the CAA produced its first thoughts on the subject. The regulator has rightly ruled out allowing BAA to finance the runway by levying higher charges on airlines using its other south-east airports. This was BAA's preferred option until it got a foretaste of the fight it would have on its hands with the likes of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, who are already paying through the nose at Heathrow for Terminal 5.

Instead, Stansted should continue to be self-financing, raising the necessary funds for a new runway on a stand-alone basis. For this to happen, charges will have to rise substantially, potentially putting the economic model of the low-cost airlines which dominate Stansted at risk.

The Government says it wants the runway built by 2011-12. BAA's latest estimate for the first phase of the project, which would lift capacity to 50 million passengers a year, is 2013. The CAA suggests that BAA might be able to fine tune the exact timing of when to open the runway by ratcheting up its prices and seeing what happens to airline demand.

But the fact is the CAA has begun from the wrong premise for the simple reason that Stansted is the wrong place to build another runway. This is hardly the regulator's fault. Its job is to encourage investment in new facilities in order to satisfy anticipated demand, not to decide where new runways should be built - that is a political decision made by the government of the day.

Everyone knows that were it left to the market to decide, then Heathrow would get a third runway before a second one is built at Stansted. Heathrow is already bursting to capacity and, unlike the low-cost carriers at Stansted who seem intent on fighting BAA all the way, its occupants would be only too willing to finance a new capacity. Moreover, the environmental obstacles to building a third runway at Heathrow may not be as insuperable as they first appeared when Tony Blair came down in favour of the politically expedient option of Stansted in the countdown to the last election.

As it is, Heathrow will be left with the second best option of introducing mixed-mode use of its two runways at Heathrow - a plan which threatens just as big an environmental revolt as a third runway - while a potential white elephant gets built in the Essex countryside. There is still time for an outbreak of common sense.


Alistair Osborne - Daily Telegraph - 21 December 2005

The Civil Aviation Authority yesterday challenged airports operator BAA to sort out with its airline customers when they were prepared to pay for a £2.7billion second runway development at Stansted.

Publishing its first consultation paper on the price caps for BAA's three London airports for the 2008-2013 control period, the CAA proposed introducing some pricing flexibility to test demand for new capacity.

The CAA said it intended to set price caps on a standalone basis, so preventing BAA subsidising projects at Stansted with revenues from Heathrow or Gatwick.

However, if there was genuine demand for extra capacity, the CAA might allow BAA to charge more in the next control period, with "compensating" lower prices thereafter.

Harry Bush, CAA director, economic regulation, said: "It is not for the CAA to say when that runway should be built."

"We should set a price path allowing it to be put in. If people flying from Stansted are not prepared to pay the price, that says something about the timing of that runway."

BAA charged £2.61 per passenger last year at Stansted, which is dominated by low-fare carriers Ryanair and Easyjet.

The CAA noted there had been no "constructive engagement" at Stansted so far between BAA and the airlines.

Mike Powell, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, said BAA would need to "ramp up charges to £7 or £8" to build the runway, which would cause "airlines to bleat very loudly".

BAA shares fell 8 to 636p.

23 December 2005


Don't destroy Ancient Woodlands
Nearly 30 woods in firing line if Stansted expansion goes ahead

Statement by the Woodland Trust - 19 December 2005

Hundreds of hectares of ancient woodland including the vast and historic 1,000-year-old Hatfield Forest will be affected by controversial plans to expand Stansted Airport, the Woodland Trust warned today.

The three billion pound proposal to build a new runway will pave the way for a three-fold rise in passengers, from 21 million-a-year in 2005 to 76 million-a-year by 2030.

But Ed Pomfret, of the Woodland Trust, warned the plans would have a massive long-term impact destroying ancient woodland – land that has been wooded for centuries – and threaten rare wildlife, flora and fauna.

He says: "At least five irreplaceable ancient woods covering around 19 hectares (45 acres) would be completely destroyed by these proposals. These sites are treasures of the natural world and must be protected from these completely unsustainable plans."

Several other sites including Hatfield Forest would be damaged by increased pollution and subject to further development pressures. These woods are incredibly rich for biodiversity including rare species like great-crested newts, garden warblers, blackcaps, lesser-spotted woodpeckers, woodcock and snipe. Pipistrelle bats. Thousands of oxlip flowers plus early purple, birds' nest and helibore orchids would also be destroyed.

He adds: "The proposals completely disregard recently introduced national protection for ancient woodland, which is our richest habitat for wildlife, it is irreplaceable and we must do all we can to stop its destruction around Stansted. But that's not all - aviation is the fastest growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which causes climate change and is the biggest long-term threat to ancient woodland."

"We only have until 24 March 2006 to register our views on this and we are asking people to take some time out after Christmas to log on and let BAA know that these plans are unacceptable to anyone who believes our natural world should be protected. We would like everyone who can to write in and try to block this destructive scheme."

Directly threatened ancient woods around Stansted Airport include Philipland Wood, Round Coppice, The Wilderness, Pigeon Wood and Priory Wood.

Responses to the airport master plan must be made by 24 March 2006. To find out more and see what you can do log on to www.woodland-trust.org.uk/campaigns/aviation. For a map of the site, please click on www.woodland-trust.org.uk/campaigns/images/stanstedproposal.jpg


Ancient Woodland: Is land continuously wooded for at least 400 years (and often much longer) and is one of the great glories of our natural heritage. Ancient woods are our richest habitat for wildlife, including more rare and threatened species than any other UK habitat. They are places of inordinate beauty, reservoirs of evidence for environmental change, archaeology and economic history, and a source of inspiration for local culture and folklore. Our resource of ancient woodland is finite and cannot increase, so what remains is precious and irreplaceable.

Protection for ancient woodland: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister recently introduced new planning guidance which states: "Ancient woodland is a valuable biodiversity resource both for the diversity of species and for its longevity as woodland. Once lost it cannot be recreated. Local planning authorities should identify any areas of ancient woodland in their areas that do not have statutory protection (e.g. as an SSSI). They should not grant planning permission for any developments that would result in its loss or deterioration. Aged or 'veteran' trees found outside ancient woodland are also particularly valuable for biodiversity and their loss should be avoided. Planning authorities should encourage the conservation of such trees as part of development proposals." (ODPM, PPS9, 2005, paragraph 10))

OUR COMMENT: DfT and BAA, please take note.

Pat Dale

21 December 2005


Uttlesford council united over Stansted Airport

News Release - Uttlesford District Council - 16 December 2005

Uttlesford district council has set BAA Stansted demanding standards for any planning application for extended use of the existing runway.

At the last full council meeting for 2005, the council voted unanimously to make any increase in the airport's capacity linked to added responsibility in areas such as the environment and transport.

At the 13 December meeting various principles were agreed which in time will evolve into specifics about the needs of the surrounding areas in the district in the long term.

Council leader Mark Gayler said "The council is making a clear statement to BAA that any planning application for extended use of the runway beyond 25 million passengers per annum will not be a walkover."

"The framework of principles agreed on Tuesday is demanding on BAA, and will need to be turned into more detailed criteria in order to address the planning application."

"The principles we have laid down address greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, the impact of local services such as train services so recently hit by the airport, reduced cars use for passengers and workers."

"BAA is being asked to relinquish car parking spaces."

"BAA is challenged to justify its claim that all economic and social implications of airport growth are beneficial."

"The council has said BAA must demonstrate that the environmental impacts on those living nearby will be reduced and minimised."

Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Jim Ketteridge added,

"The council is responding to the strong community opposition to more airport growth and has asked BAA to take this opposition seriously."

"Uttlesford is determined to ensure that BAA justifies every aspect of any proposals it chooses to submit next year."

Leader of the Independent group, Cllr Elizabeth Godwin said,

"We are also concerned about the possible impact on people's health in the area and this needs to be looked at in depth."


The Council's initial Statement

i.   All the options proposed by BAA for a second runway, while varying in detail, are damaging to the global and regional environment and to the surrounding communities and community life.

ii.   No proposals can be fully assessed without information about developmenys in road and rail infrastructure and the Council calls upon BAA to rectify this omission from their proposals.

iii.   The series of options proposed has the effect of blighting homes that were not previously subject to blight and calls on BAA to extend immediately the provisions of the Home Value Guarantee and Home Owner Support Schemes to those residents who find themselves in this position and to undertake to compensate all who suffer from general blight.

Details of BAA's proposals can be seen on BAA's website www.stanstedairport.com/future or telephone 0800 783 1764


The Council's formal response to BAA:

The Council's Resolution of 13 December 2005, which takes full account of the report of community research commissioned by the Council, supersedes the interim views as discussed at the Stansted Airport Advisory Panel on 24 October, which were communicated to BAA to met its 31 October deadline.

The Council:

a)   Maintains its position as set out in its response to the Department for Transport consultation on the Future Development of Air Transport in the UK that growth in air travel is incompatible with the Government's carbon emissions reduction obligations. This has recently been strengthened by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research report "Decarbonising the UK" published September 2005, which stresses that "if the UK Government does not curb aviation growth, all other sectors of the economy will eventually be forced to become carbon neutral". The Council will continue to press the Government to change its policies on air travel so that there is a coherent climate change strategy across all its departments consistent with the Energy White Paper.

b)   Is dedicated to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change, which commits local authorities to work with central government to contribute, at local level, to the delivery of the UK Climate Change Programme, the Kyoto Protocol and the target for carbon dioxide reduction. This will support the recent agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal that member states should work together through the UN to examine the way forward, including the process for fixing targets beyond 2012.  There is increasing acknowledgement of the costs of inaction and the considerable economic, social and environmental benefits of action. The Council will develop plans with our partners and local communities progressively to limit the causes and the impacts of climate change, according to our local priorities. This initiative includes encouraging all sectors of our local community to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and to make public their commitment to action. The Council considers that Stansted Airport and its associated aviation operations fall within this commitment. The Minister of State (Climate Change and Environment) DEFRA and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, ODPM are signatories of the Declaration.

c)   Is not convinced that proposals for greenhouse gas emissions trading in aviation in future years will be successful in achieving reductions on emissions associated with Stansted Airport and its aviation operations and therefore expects BAA to come forward with alternative proposals to reduce the current trend for total emissions at Stansted Airport to increase.

d)   Notes the requirements of the 1998 Transport White Paper, The Air Transport White Paper, PPG13 and the draft East of England Plan to reduce dependence on the car as a means of surface access to airports and increase the proportion of passengers using public transport. It expects BAA to introduce a low car strategy at Stansted for existing and any future developments and invites BAA to relinquish some of its existing permitted public car parking provision.

e)   Maintains its opposition to the principle of a second runway at Stansted

f)   Insists that there must be further consultation opportunities for stakeholders and the public throughout the planning process.

g)   Insists that BAA accepts responsibility for the impact of the airport on local services, such as public rail transport, and ensures that local services are not downgraded to accommodate the demands of airport-related growth.

h)   Urges BAA to take very seriously the level of community opposition to its proposals for increased use of the existing runway and to desist from publishing proposals that they claim to be 'green' in their environmental credentials.

i)   Criticises BAA for being unable to provide an opportunity to comment on the nature of the airport in 2015 that BAA is actually planning as the context for its proposals to increase the use of the existing runway and insists that all future plans are merged into a single Master Plan. This was one of the intended purposes of airport master plans. BAA is presenting a description of the Airport in 2015 that it does not expect to be extant in 2015. 

j)   Makes clear that it expects that any application for planning permission to increase use of the existing single runway must demonstrate that the environmental impacts on those living nearby will be reduced and minimised in accordance with the requirement to that effect laid down in the Air Transport White Paper Executive Summary.

k)   Reiterates the need for detailed evidence to back up the assertions as to the effects of 35 mppa with no second runway stated in the Interim Master Plan and pre application consultation document. BAA will need to provide a robust justification.

l)   Warns that it is inappropriate to use impacts predicted at 25 mppa in 2010, based on assumptions made in 2000 or earlier, as a benchmark for effects now predicted at 35 mppa in 2015. Information as to the current position is necessary from the community perspective, but it is also necessary to be able to compare the predicted impact at 35 mppa with revised assessments of impact at 25 mppa.

m)   Requires that any agreement associated with any planning application for growth at the airport is related to airport activity as well as physical facilities.

n)   Informs BAA that in advance of ongoing work from both the Council's consultants and BAA, there is little to say in response to BAA's cursory consultation material. The four Stansted area local authorities are taking a pro-active approach to BAA's proposals and have commissioned consultants to advise on airport economics and forecasting; air noise; and surface access issues. The consultants' findings will enable the authorities both to comment on the material to be supplied by BAA in support of their application for increased use of the existing runway and to advise on the outcomes to which BAA could reasonably be asked to commit before the application could be determined.

o)   Reiterates the importance of the Scoping Opinion issued by the Council, which sets out advice to BAA on the information that the local planning authority considers should be submitted as part of the planning application. Notwithstanding the feedback BAA has provided on this advice, the Scoping Opinion as issued still stands.

p)   Criticises BAA for missing an opportunity to present information to the community as to the effects of increased use of the existing runway, even within the constraints of an Interim Master Plan. BAA has failed to use techniques in addition to or instead of those more appropriate to the technical reports that constitute a formal Environmental Assessment. For example, it could have used other noise metrics besides LAeq to provide more information on air noise effects, as requested in the Scoping Opinion. It is already clear that air noise is one of the issues that most concerns communities over an extensive area and further work on assessing and explaining the impacts is essential.

q)   Notes that there is considerable doubt that a second runway will be built within the East of England Plan horizon to 2021 and therefore requires BAA to provide a capacity projection for maximum use of the existing runway to 2021 together with environmental and health impact assessments, noise and air quality projections, a surface access strategy and proposals for road and rail infrastructure proposals for such level of usage on the existing runway,

r)   Remains sceptical about BAA claims of the economic benefits of airport growth, especially as these claims ignore any downside factors. For example, concern has been identified in a recent report by EEDA about the welfare of immigrant workers in the East of England Region. There is no detailed evidence in West Essex on this subject, yet as a consequence of the prevailing tight local labour market it is known that the airport is reliant on the importation of labour. These and other social and economic impacts of airport growth should be addressed.

21 December 2005


Burton End hamlet on the edge of Stansted Mountfitchet is threatened with obliteration beneath car parks if BAA's second runway proposals are not defeated

Press Release from Cllr Alan Dean - 19 December 2005

At 2 p.m. today Cllr Alan Dean, the local member of Uttlesford District Council for Burton End, is meeting with Burton End residents David Harrison and Michael Belcher to draw up plans for the 'Battle of Burton End'.

"The Burton End community has been blighted. BAA's mean spirited approach condemns residents to months and probably years of uncertainty with no compensation. BAA rapacious demand for endless parking lots must be stopped," said Alan Dean.

At last Tuesday (13 December) evening's full council meeting there was unanimous support for a proposal by Cllr Dean to limit the impact of cars by reducing car park lots at Stansted airport for the existing runway.

Cllr Dean said after the meeting: "The council is making a clear statement to BAA that any planning application for extended use of the runway beyond 25 million passengers per annum will not be a walkover. BAA is being asked to relinquish car parking spaces. The battle has to be won on runway 1first. We are now fighting on two fronts."

"The council is responding to the strong community opposition to more airport growth and has asked BAA to take this opposition seriously. Uttlesford is determined to ensure that BAA justifies every aspect of any proposals it chooses to submit next year."

21 December 2005


CAA Consults On Regulatory Approach to Airports Price Reviews

Announcement by CAA - 20 December 2005

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today published its first major consultation paper on its policy for the forthcoming reviews of airport price controls at BAA's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, and at Manchester Airport.

Under the Airports Act 1986, the CAA is charged with setting price controls every five years at each of the airports. Today's paper is primarily focused on BAA's London airports, where new price controls from April 2008 to March 2013 are due to be set in early 2008, but also describes regulatory policy which is likely to be relevant to the Manchester Airport review. The CAA is seeking views from stakeholders to help the CAA decide how best to conduct the reviews.

In fulfilling its statutory function to set price controls, the CAA must strike a balance which is best calculated to further the reasonable interests of airport users, to promote efficient, economic and profitable airport operation, to encourage investment in time to satisfy anticipated demand, and to impose the minimum restrictions necessary. Today's paper sets out how the CAA proposes to reach such a balance and the policy principles it is planning to adopt.

The CAA is proposing to retain two important elements of the existing regulatory regime, namely:

* the regulation of each of BAA's airports on a 'stand-alone' basis, i.e. setting price caps by reference to each airport's own air traffic, costs, and assets; and
* continuing to set the next caps on airport charges using a 'single till' approach, i.e. setting caps on airport charges by reference to the costs of the airport as a whole, and taking into account projected commercial revenues.

The CAA is also proposing to undertake a detailed scrutiny of BAA's projected costs and revenues, with a view to ensuring that the caps on airport charges are based on a projection of efficiently incurred costs. This will involve assessment of:

* BAA's airport operating costs (informed by a CAA-led project designed to compare the efficiency of sampled processes carried out by BAA with comparable processes in other organisations, including – but not limited to – other airports);
* BAA's projected commercial revenues; and
* BAA's cost of capital.

This work is designed to complement the output from airline/airport discussions on projected passenger numbers, service quality, capacity requirements and capital expenditure, under a framework the CAA has called constructive engagement established by the CAA in order to inform the price control review.

The CAA document reports on the progress of constructive engagement at the different airports, in line with its previously announced intentions. Progress at Heathrow and Gatwick has been good and the CAA looks forward to the results, due in late Spring 2006. However, at Stansted no substantive progress has been made in the six months to date. Given the risk that there may be no substantive output from discussions between the airport and airlines at Stansted in the next six months, the CAA has decided to proceed with a more standard regulatory scrutiny of Stansted's forecasts and capital plans. However the CAA remains open to receipt of evidence from all parties, and to the possibility that dialogue between Stansted airport and airlines in the first half of 2006 on topics identified for constructive engagement may lead to a more substantive exchange of views, which could deliver evidence, or agreement, which could be taken into account by the CAA.

This review takes place against a background of strong growth in the demand for air travel. As traffic has grown, airport capacity in the South East of England has continued to fill up, with opportunities for incremental increases in capacity progressively being exploited. These circumstances suggest the need for a step-change in investment in new airport infrastructure, but uncertainties in the rates of growth at individual airports mean that the timing of major investment – including investment in a new runway and associated infrastructure – will be a key issue for this review. The need for investment in airport infrastructure in the South East of England was also highlighted by the Government in its 2003 White Paper.

The CAA sets out in the document some options for dealing with uncertainties in the rate of growth of demand, including measures such as stand-alone regulation designed to ensure that the costs of airport investments are kept to a minimum, and that – as far as possible – investment is properly phased to meet demand. The CAA is considering setting price controls that give flexibility so as to enable the strength of demand for new capacity to be assessed (and so better informing the decision on the timing of the investment). If demand for new investment exists, such flexibility would also allow prices to follow a path consistent with the CAA's duty to encourage investment in time to satisfy anticipated demand. In suggesting this approach, the CAA recognises that if it led to prices in 2008 to 2013 that were higher than they otherwise would be, there would need to be compensating adjustments in future price control periods.

Dr Harry Bush, CAA Group Director, Economic Regulation, said: "The CAA's task in the airports review is to set the framework of economic regulation, to the long term benefit of passengers, airlines and airports. Our proposed regulatory approach should help ensure that airlines and passengers, over time, receive the service and capacity at airports that they need, at an efficient cost."

"The CAA's proposals should enable BAA's airports to cope with the changes in demand which they are facing, and should provide incentives to bring forward the right investment at the right time. We look forward to working with airlines, passengers' representatives and airports over 2006 and beyond to develop these initial proposals in the light of feedback and other evidence, so that the CAA's price control proposals reflect the best available information about the development of the UK air transport market and the impact of regulation."

Following the CAA's extension by one year of the current price control, the new price cap for Manchester will be set for the period April 2009 to March 2014.

The document is available on the CAA website. The closing date for consultation responses is Monday, 20 March 2006.

The CAA is responsible for economic regulation of BAA's London airports and Manchester, in accordance with its statutory duties. Maximum charges at designated airports (currently Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and Manchester) are set by the CAA as the independent economic regulator. The CAA's decisions are made under its duties set out in section 39 of the Airports Act 1986.

21 December 2005


Bad News - But the UK could do better
(Scrap proposed airport expansion plans)

BBC File on 4 - 18 December 2005

A government minister has given the gloomiest official forecast so far on the efforts to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions

Environment minister Eliott Morley told File on 4 that Britain could get only just over half way to hitting its target of cutting carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, by 20% by 2010.

He said current projections were that the figure could be 14% down to as low as 11%.

"That's if we do nothing but that's not going to happen," he said.

"For the last three years [CO2 emissions] have been going the wrong way and we have to reverse that."

21 December 2005


Campaigners celebrate flightpath victory

Craig Robinson - EADT News - 20 December 2005

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to protect the peace and tranquillity of Constable Country by changing controversial aircraft flight patterns were celebrating last night after winning their battle against aviation bosses.

A legal action brought by the residents of Dedham Vale against the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over the nuisance caused by over flying aircraft was settled in the High Court yesterday.

The CAA and National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which manages airspace use, agreed that in any future reorganisation of flight paths they will have regard to the potential environmental impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in north Essex and Suffolk, and the rivers Stour and Orwell.

The CAA also agreed the frequency of planes over-flying the Dedham Vale and surrounding area was "significantly greater" than had previously been anticipated.

Last night members of the Dedham Vale Society, which brought the case, said they were delighted with the outcome but were unable to comment further because the court was still deciding on costs.

The residents were headed by barrister Thomas Hill, a specialist in planning and environmental law, who lives with his family at Bentley Manor, Bentley, near Ipswich.

He said: "Unfortunately because the judge in the case is still deciding costs we have been advised that we cannot comment on the case. However we have reached an agreement with the CAA which is acceptable."

Wilfred Tolhurst, chairman of the Dedham Vale Society, echoed Mr Hill's comments saying he was "delighted."

And Christopher Garnett, Colchester Borough Councillor for Dedham and Langham said: "Hopefully they will make a considerable improvement in the summer months for those who want to use their gardens and for people out walking.

"Night-time can be a problem, coming out of church on Sunday evening, you can just see a mass of moving stars accompanied by the droan of the aircraft."

However Lesley Ford-Platt, mayor of Sudbury, said she hoped the decision would not lead to more flights being made over densely populated areas such as Sudbury and Ipswich.

"I have to admit that if the decision means there will be more flights over areas where there is a greater population then I don't agree with it," she said. "Where is it better for there to be a crash - over an area where there is very few people or over larger towns like Sudbury and Ipswich?

"The residents in this area are fed up with the noise caused by aircrafts and if the High Court decision means this will increase then we will be unhappy. It is the case of a minority acting against the majority."

During a three-day hearing in London last week, attended by members of the Dedham Vale Society, residents accused the CAA of ruining the peace and tranquillity of the countryside painted so often by John Constable by allowing "dramatic and unexpected" changes to aircraft flight patterns.

In a legal challenge backed by the 800-strong Dedham Vale Society, Mr Hill said his family and thousands of others became victims of noise and visual intrusion after changes were made to the use of air space over East Anglia by aircraft using Stansted airport.

At the hearing yesterday, John Steel QC, for the residents, told the judge the parties agreed to settle on the basis that CAA and NATS, in any reorganisation of airspace which they were currently considering, would have regard to environmental effects on the two AONBs in terms of aircraft noise and visual intrusions.

Last night a spokesman for the CAA said: "Although the case is not yet fully concluded, the CAA and NATS have reached a settlement with the claimants that ensures that due consideration will be given to the environmental impacts arising from the Clacton Airspace Change when any future proposals for airspace design and use over this part of south-east England are presented to the CAA.

"This consideration will be in line with the CAA's duties as set out in the Transport Act 2000 and the Air Navigation Directions issued by the DfT."

Richard Wright, spokesman for National Air Traffic Services Ltd (NATS), said: "Although NATS is an interested party the High Court action was against the CAA not NATS.

"We are in the very, very early stages of looking at the next generation of airspace developments, which would include East Anglia. We are certainly looking at the aspects over East Anglia but it is early days yet."

21 December 2005


EADT News - 19 December 2005

THE on-going battle over the future of Stansted Airport has seen business leaders throw their support behind expansion plans.

But as the commerce community praised the benefits of a proposed second runway, the council which will decide whether it gets permission warned airport operator BAA it will not have a "walkover".

Last week the long-awaited designs for the second runway were revealed and if given the green-light as many as 76 million passengers annually could be using the Essex-based within 30 years.

BAA's preferred "greener" design, which take less land than a previous blueprint, was strongly criticised by the Stop Stansted Expansion group.

But Terry Morgan, Stansted's managing director, said he had been delighted with the support received since the plans were made public.

Among those to come out in favour were Sir Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry.

He said: "Stansted is now a major employer and driver of economic development within the East of England. The airport will become increasingly more important as the region and its businesses develop further, business needs a world-class gateway to enable the UK to compete in a competitive global market."

And John Clayton, chief executive of the Essex Chamber of Commerce added: "Expansion of Stansted is seen as one of the keys to the future prosperity of the business community in Essex and the East of England."

"Importantly, expansion will assist the international competitiveness of Essex-based businesses, promote increased inward investment and has the potential to provide a major boost for tourism in the county."

But Uttlesford District Council, which will decide if the second runway gets the go-ahead, is determined to make any increase in capacity link in to environmental and transport responsibilities.

Council leader Mark Gayler said: "The council is making a clear statement to BAA that any planning application for extended use of the runway beyond 25 million passengers per annum will not be a walkover."

"The council has said BAA must demonstrate that the environmental impacts on those living nearby will be reduced and minimised."

He added BAA would have to prove all the economic and social implications of the expansion would be beneficial.

There is currently an on-going period of public consultation and it the project goes ahead as BAA hopes it will be submitting a planning application in the summer of 2007, with 2008 as the estimated starting date for a public inquiry.

OUR COMMENT: No one denies that an airport provides jobs and economic benefits to those in the local business community who rely on air transport for freight and general business use. However, like every other economic activity there are limits to these benefits, a point when they are overtaken, not only by environmental problems but also by economic problems such as those arising from traffic congestion, and competition for labour. Both BAA and the supporting business community should present proper evidence to support their claim that more capacity than that needed for the present 25 mppa limit will provide local and regional additional economic benefits to all the community.

Pat Dale

19 December 2005


BAA must feel like Billy No Mates

Readers' Letters - Saffron Walden Weekly News - 15 December 2005

Sir, BAA's attempt to re-launch its plan for a second Stansted runway seems to have backfired spectacularly. The airport operator had no doubt hoped that its new plan, described as "greener and cheaper", would result in the opposition melting away like Xmas snow. However, the reception to BAA's latest plan was decidedly frosty, and rightly so.

The following day's newspaper headlines said it all: "New Stansted runway plan flawed", said The Times, quoting the reaction of Ryanair and EasyJet, who described BAA's plans as "deeply flawed and misleading" and who threatened legal action against BAA.

"Britain's leading airlines yesterday gave a turbo-charged raspberry to BAA's latest proposals for a second runway at Stansted", said The Telegraph.

The Independent said: "No one, other than the government, wants this runway".

The Guardian said that BAA's plans were "opposed by airlines, local authorities, and environmental and local residents groups."

The Financial Times reported that BAA's share price was marked down and that the company's credit rating had been put on review for downgrade… It also reported British Airways' opposition to any form of cross-subsidy for Stansted expansion.

Lord Hanningfield, Leader of Essex County Council, commenting on behalf od all the councils surrounding Stansted, dismissed the plans as "unwanted, unfundable and unnecessary". Poor old BAA must be feeling a bit like Billy No Mates. This being the season of goodwill, we should be sympathetic, but BAA has itself to blame. The old saying "you can fool some of the people some of the time etc." seems to have finally caught up with BAA and its "greener and cheaper" claim was an insult to our intelligence. BAA had simply moved its proposed second runway 200 yards to the west.

A second runway at Stansted, whatever its location, would not only be an environmental catastrophe for the local area, but would result in the equivalent of 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into the global atmosphere every year.

This must surely not be the legacy that this generation leaves to the next one and Xmas is an ideal time to reflect on the things in life that are more important than cheap flights. Perhaps, one Xmas in the not too distant future, we might even be able to look forward to a silent night.

Brian Ross

Black is the New Green?

Sir, just as the international community called the American President George W. Bush's bluff last week over climate change, so the community and the region around Stansted airport needs to call the bluff of BAA chief executive, Mike Clasper. Last week's announcement on extra runways has been described as "cheaper and greener". This is the first time I have heard a marginally lighter shade of black called green.

Mr Clasper was seen on BBC television saying that BAA would buy its way out of a massive escalation of Stansted's planes polluting the planet. He wants to trade permits with those industries that can prosper while creating less carbon dioxide. But weren't we being told from last week's Montreal climate change conference that overall carbon dioxide totals would have to fall dramatically if we are to save the planet for future generations?

Experts have calculated that all the homes in the six counties of the East of England would permanently need to switch off their lights, heating and all household appliances as well as to throw away the keys to their cars simply to offset the emissions that BAA wants to spew from Stansted aeroplanes. Yet this unacceptable sacrifice would do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide totals if BAA gets its way.

BAA says in its latest runway proposal: "climate change was not considered as part of our runway optioneering process". May I respectfully suggest they start to make real CO2 reductions rather than expect the rest of society to bail them out?

Councillor Alan Dean Stansted

BAA ignore Global Impact

Sir, BAA have the unbelievable cheek to say that their proposed second runway at Stansted airport will be "greener" than their original proposals. What a joke! All they have done is slightly to scale back the perimeter of an expanded airport, but the planes that use it will still be causing global warming.

The reality is that if we are to compensate for the global warming impacts caused by full use of two runways at Stansted, then every house in East Anglia will have to stop using their cars, unplug their electricity supply and turn off their central heating.

BAA are, in effect, condemning East Anglia to go back to the Dark Ages. And that's before we start actually reducing the country's impact on global warming. If climate change is the biggest threat faced by society then it is highly irresponsible of BAA to ignore the impact of its proposals.

Peter Riding
Saffron Walden

19 December 2005


BAA in £1.25bn Budapest deal

Kevin Dome & Christopher Condon - Financial Times - 19 December 2005

BAA, the world's leading airports operator, expects to more than double the earnings of Budapest airport in the next 6 years after buying majority control of the Hungarian group for £1.25bn.

Mike Clasper, BAA chief executive, will face investors today on London to justify the high valuation BAA attached to the business, which neat rival bids from Hochtief, the German construction and infrastructure group, and Fraport, the Frankfurt airport concern. The deal, BAA's largest acquisition, is the world's most highly valued airport takeover, representing a multiple of around 30 times Budapest airport's prospective 2005 earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation of £46m.

BAA, which signed a definitive contract yesterday and expects to complete the transaction by Friday, plans to invest a further 261m Euros to develop the airport between 2006 and 2011. It forecast earnings would more than double by 2011, helped by higher retail and property income and rising passenger volumes. BAA is expected to tell investors that the takeover of a 75% stake minus one share, in one of Europe's fastest growing airports along with a 25-year operating concession represents its best chance to reduce its dependence on its regulated London airports business.

Return on capital at its 3 London airports is limited by the price cap regime set by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Mr Clasper said the deal would "modestly" dilute earnings per share by approximately 4%, before amortisation, and exceptional items, in the year to March 2007 and would not enhance earnings until 2011.

Recent airport privatisations, where majority stakes were available, have achieved valuations of 15-16 times earnings.

Standard & Poor's and Moody's, the US credit rating agencies, have placed BAA's long-term debt on review for downgrade. BAA said the acquisition would be financed initially by a bank facility, which would be refinanced later in the financial markets. The sale of the airport is the biggest single privatisation transaction made by Hungary. It is also the biggest commitment made by a UK company in Hungary, double the investment of the previous leading UK investor, the supermarket group, Tesco.

BAA believes that by 2020 Budapest airport will be as big as London Stansted today and will be rivalling London Gatwick as the group's biggest profit generator after Heathrow. The Hungarian government was advised by Credit Suisse First Boston and Concorde Securities with Clifford Chance as legal adviser. BAA was advised by Rothschild.

OUR COMMENT: More expenditure! More airport expansion! Where is all the money coming from? All dependent on more loans, more potential passengers and more aircraft in the skies. It seems that BAA's aspiration is to become the world's biggest air pollution promotor. What are the views of those who live round the airport in Budapest?

Pat Dale

17 December 2005



Press Release - Friends of the Earth International - 10 December 2005

Government leaders in Montreal today (Saturday 10th December 2005) reached a historic agreement on future action to tackle climate change. The Montreal Action Plan (MAP) was concluded despite a last minute intervention from Russia which almost resulted in deadlock.

Negotiators worked through Friday night to reach a progressive agreement under the Kyoto Protocol, which will lead to deepe emissions cuts in the next commitment period, which starts in 2013. This Kyoto deal initiates crucial negotiations on legally binding targets for industrialised countries and also sets in motion a wider review of the entire regime involving all countries, due to be discussed at talks next year.

Agreement was also reached under the UN Framework Convention Change (UNFCCC) despite the reluctance of the United States administration, which put forward new text to weaken the deal.

Friends of the Earth International Vice Chair Tony Juniper said: "Despite Russia's attempt to wreck the deal, this meeting has made a historic agreement which will strengthen global resolve with legally-binding targets to take action to tackle climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. It has sent a clear signal that the future lies in cleaner and more sustainable technologies and is good news for people everywhere."

"We expected progress under the Convention, but the US administration effectively forced the rest of the world to bend over backwards to keep them on board. The result is a very weak deal."

Friends of the Earth International Climate Change Campaigner Catherine Pearce said: "Scientific evidence clearly demands urgent action to cut the pollution that is warming our world. The international community has wisely taken these warnings seriously by agreeing to further action. This is a clear signal that the Kyoto agreement is alive and well. Leaders have shown that much-needed progress can be made. The Government of Canada deserves real praise for the role it played in making the Montreal meeting a success."

Late night drama (Thursday) saw the United States delegation leave the talks, in an effort to collapse negotiations under both the UN Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. On Friday further attempts to block progress saw the United States delegation table new draft text, further diluting the meaning of the deal.

But strong leadership from the Canadian President and clear resolve from other countries, including Britain, Japan and major developing countries, particularly Brazil and South Africa, made progress possible.

Countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol (all major industrialised and developing countries, except the USA and Australia) have agreed to ensure new targets on cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will be in place to immediately follow the first commitment phase in 2012.

Rules governing the Kyoto Protocol's operation (the Marrakesh Accords) were agreed in Montreal, including the legally binding nature of the regime. Countries also agreed to a review of both the Kyoto Protocol and Framework Convention to start next year.

An agreement was also reached on reform of the "Clean Development Mechanism" (the mechanism allowing industrialised countries to claim carbon credits by investing in clean energy projects in the developing world). But concerns remain about what this includes and what will be delivered.


Environment Daily 2001 - 12 December 2005

World governments have agreed to continue and strengthen the fight against global warming at the close of two weeks of international negotiations in Montreal, Canada. The conference will be remembered in particular for launching talks on further greenhouse gas reductions after 2012.

Finally grinding to a halt at 6.15am on Saturday, the Montreal talks produced far more progress than seemed possible earlier in the fortnight. A jubilant EU called the outcome a "watershed". The UN called the meeting "one of the most productive ever". Even environmental groups, generally quick to criticise, issued positive assessments.

The conference adopted 40 decisions in all. Its progress and conclusions have been widely reported by the world's media. Environment Daily offers the following brief summary of key outcomes:

* Parties to the Kyoto protocol agreed to set up a group to start discussions on DEEPER EMISSION CUTS BY INDUSTRIALISED COUNTRIES AFTER 2012, when the protocol's current limits expire. The group will first meet next May. It has been asked to ensure continuity between the 2008-12 commitment period and the one that follows.

By signalling that emission reductions will continue after 2012, the agreement reaffirms Kyoto as a central engine of global climate change policy. It also sends a strong signal that carbon emissions will continue to have a market value in future.

* Parties to the protocol's parent climate change convention have, in parallel, agreed to hold a thorough DIALOGUE ON LONG-TERM ACTIONS TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE and to report back to the next conference of parties but one, meaning probably the end of 2007.

The key significance of this second negotiations track is that it will include developing countries and Kyoto-refusnik rich nations the USA and Australia. It keeps open the possibility of a broader global framework involving both these groups.

* The Marrakech accords, or "KYOTO RULE-BOOK", were adopted, strengthening the legal framework for implementing the protocol. Key elements include agreements on a COMPLIANCE REGIME to enforce the protocol's rules; a STRONGER, BETTER FUNDED CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANISM; and the LAUNCH OF JOINT IMPLEMENTATION.

* Parties agreed to launch a REVIEW OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL, due to kick-off at the next annual conference in late 2006.

* Under the protocol's parent convention parties agreed a five-year work programme on IMPACTS OF AND ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE and launched a one-year process to define how the convention's ADAPTATION FUND will be operated. Parties reaffirmed the importance of TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSFER, and agreed to start talks on possible SUPPORT FOR FORESTATION AND REFORESTATION.


The Guardian - 13 December 2005

If avoiding dangerous climate change is the reason for the Montreal talks, the outcome there is hardly a breakthrough for Kyoto or anything else (Montreal deal raises hopes, December 12).
Success is quite falsely claimed, as the very possibility of effective process to avoid dangerous rates of climate change is now vanishing like the ice-sheets. If we are honest about the enormity of our double jeopardy of climate change - asymmetric growth and damages - to claim Montreal as a success, in fact institutionalises our collective willingness to lie about this. For the government and non-government bodies to claim that the US is now "in" the process is risible. The US merely stopped saying that future discussion beyond Kyoto shouldn't happen. On the eve of outcome, the US was hardly going to snatch away this fig-leaf. Probably like all of us, they too find it difficult to deal with the naked truth. So "permission" for apples to fall to the ground and for wolves to howl at the moon is hardly disrobing the US emperor.
    Aubrey Meyer

At times the last late-night session of the Montreal climate talks bore more resemblance to a World Cup penalty shoot-out than a UN conference, with delegates gnawing at their nails before breaking into cheering at the result. An invaluable contribution was made by Margaret Beckett, who ensured the EU remained firm in the face of last-minute Russian threats to block progress. She should be commended on the part she played in bringing about a deal that ensures Kyoto is now stronger than ever.
    Charlie Kronick
    Greenpeace climate campaign

Readers of the Guardian may get the impression that Americans don't care about climate change. In fact surveys show that over three-quarters of the US population favour action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, our current president does not represent the will of the people. Our government's inaction and foot-dragging on the issue is a source of embarrassment. Like our friends in the EU, many in the US are pressing for change.
    Aaron Contorer
    San Diego, California

Every climate-change conference has had a different mood; at Montreal it reflected a positive change in attitudes and a new sense of purpose. Those still in denial about global warming were absent. The G77 developing nations, instead of simply blaming the west for global warming emissions, called for practical help to enable them to avoid carbon-producing technologies. Industry argued that it no longer wanted to be seen as the problem, but as part of the solution. Everyone pointed to examples of real steps forward being taken in the US, despite the Bush administration's lack of enthusiasm.
The key to progress lies in the strengthening of market mechanisms like the EU emissions trading scheme, and in fiscal changes by governments that will penalise bad practice. Margaret Beckett has done a good job negotiating on behalf of Europe. Now it's up to Gordon Brown to match her efforts and put fine words into practice.
    Chris Davies MEP
    Leader, British Liberal Democrat MEPs and environment spokesman


The pace of climate change talks is glacially slow
It's time for a global reality check

Andrew Simm - The Guardian - 13 December 2005

In the run-up to the original 1992 Earth Summit that established the UN framework convention on climate change it was said that people had low expectations, and all of them were met. If nothing else, the recent Montreal climate conference delivered on the opportunity for cultural misunderstanding created by French-speaking North America. What were taken as tears of joy from Margaret Beckett when the conference didn't collapse were actually sobs of relief.

The US commitment to wreck the development of binding targets to reduce international emissions under the Kyoto protocol, coupled with clear signals that Tony Blair mistook appeasement for engagement, reduced expectations to below the water line of a small island state quietly sinking due to global warming. So, when the talks about talks finally agreed that there should be more conversation, delegates rejoiced. But how positive can we be?

Our elected representatives managed to agree that it's still worth meeting to save the planet. Should they be congratulated? In order to do that, they had to allow that future commitments may be voluntary and not binding when the current phase of the protocol ends in 2012. More positively, agreement to review both the protocol and the background convention means, in reverse, that more adequate targets to halt dangerous climate change could be negotiated. Crucially, it also means a forum remains to reconcile the opposite demands of the super-rich in the US and the incredibly poor in the least developed countries.

The problem is that negotiations like these have only one pace, glacially slow. And all the time the real glaciers are melting ever faster. The reality checks are whether countries such as Britain can start reducing emissions by around 3% year on year, and whether rich countries can free up the environmental space that poor countries - whose emissions will rise in the short term - need to develop, and provide the funds they need to adapt to climate change.

Britain is a good case study, as we're supposed to be providing international leadership. Yet our emissions recently rose for the third consecutive year and our track record on funding adaptation is shaky at best. Embarrassingly, in the run-up to the last G8 summit, at which Africa and climate change were top issues, Britain failed to pay anything into the key new funds set up to help the world's poorest countries adapt to global warming. At Montreal government officials still couldn't say whether or how much Britain had paid. There was supposed to be $400m made available annually from all rich countries, starting in 2005, to cover all poor countries' costs of adaptation. Unfortunately it will cost more than 36 times that amount to protect just the populated coastline of Tanzania against sea-level rise. Parts of Africa face even greater problems of increased drought and new climate-borne disease.

The conference proudly announced that $13m would be available for 2006-07 through one initiative, the Clean Development Mechanism. That sounds OK until you recall that George Bush raised $13bn to help fund the US occupation of Iraq at a brief conference in Madrid in 2003.

Yet there was evidence in Montreal that poor countries, usually highly diplomatic because of their relative powerlessness, are getting bolder and angrier. Rafiq Ahmed Khan from Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, called for "immediate and adequate resources for adaptation", and broke new ground. Suggesting a shift from the politics of aid to one of obligation, or legal rights, he called for "compensation for damages due to unavoidable adverse impacts of climate change", and said "binding commitments", rather than voluntary contributions, would be needed to secure adequate funds.

We're now closer to general recognition that the threat from climate change is so large it threatens all the internationally agreed targets for poverty reduction - the millennium development goals. There's also a growing consensus on the minimum requirements for an effective post-2012 deal. Equal rights to atmosphere and sufficient resources to enable developing countries to adapt to already unavoidable global warming are what the least developed countries need as an invitation to participate.

For any future deal to work, it will also need to agree on greenhouse-gas reduction targets adequate to stop dangerous climate change. That might seem obvious, but we're already on a path within the next 10 years to hit the upper limit of carbon dioxide concentrations deemed safe by Blair's own climate taskforce. The government's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and the climate scientist Sir John Houghton have all said that global warming is a bigger threat to society than terrorism. That means it needs a stronger international response. As Churchill once said, and it could be applied to the Montreal conference: "It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary." Certain economic changes will, in the long term, be unavoidable to meet the challenge.

And it could be that only the kind of focus found under Churchill's war leadership could possibly prepare us, for example, for the ultimate inevitability of fossil-fuel rationing.

Andrew Simms is the author of Ecological Debt: the Health of the Planet and the Wealth of Nations, and the policy director of the New Economics Foundation

12 December 2005


Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - The Financial Times - 10 December 2005

BAA unveiled its plans for a £2.7bn expansion of London Stansted airport yesterday. The airports group's scheme aims to triple the present capacity of London's third airport to about 76m passengers a year, more than the current size of Heathrow.

The plans, including the building of a second runway and a second terminal building, are opposed by airlines, local authorities and environmental and local residents' groups.

The main airlines operating at Stansted, led by Ryanair and EasyJet, said the plan was "deeply flawed and misleading" and urged Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, to intervene.

David O'Brien, chairman of the Stansted Airline Consultative Committee and Ryanair operations director said the "unveiling of this gold-plated folly, with no supporting business plan, is testament to the failure of the current regulatory regime to restrain this out-of-control monopoly". He warned that BAA would have to triple landing charges to pay for the scheme, which would drastically slow growth.

The Stop Stansted Expansion group said the second runway would be an "environmental catastrophe". It said the plan was opposed by more than 100 Parish and Town Councils, District Councils, the East of England's Regional Assembly and every MP and MEP in the region irrespective of political party.

Lord Hanningfield, Leader of Essex County Council, said that the scheme was "unwanted, unfundable and unnecessary". Friends of the Earth, the environmental group, said air travel was already the fastest growing contributor to climate change and "building a second runway at Stansted will allow this situation to get worse".

The bitter debate over the funding of the so-called Stansted Generation 2 project will intensify later this month. The Civil Aviation Authority, the economic regulator for BAA's three London airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – is due to issue in two weeks its first policy document on the setting of the next price cap regime for the five years from April 2006.

Mike Clasper, BAA chief executive, said the earliest the first phase of the Stansted scheme could be operational would be the end of 2013. But he warned that this would need a "satisfactory pricing formula" from the CAA to give BAA the incentive to deliver the second runway "as soon as possible". If the regulatory regime was "too tight" BAA said the project would be put back by "some years".

Earlier this year, BAA said early development of Stansted would only be possible with some element of "cross-subsidisation" through airline user charges at Heathrow and Gatwick, a suggestion that airlines at those airports have pledged to fight. CAA policy also favours "stand-alone" pricing at individual airports.

A second runway at Stansted, the first new runway to be built in south-east England since the war, was recommended by the government's white paper, "The Future of Air Transport" in 2003, which called for completion in 2011-2012 as part of the UK's most ambitious programme of airport expansion.

BAA said its preferred "lowest cost" option at Stansted would involve investment of £2.7bn for on-airport developments including a 3,048 metre runway, second terminal building, taxiways,42 aircraft stands and associated piers, car parking, control tower, enhanced bus and railway stations and connection to the M11 motorway.

It claimed that this was £1bn lower than the original government white paper estimates, both at 2005 prices. In addition, it estimated a further £500m for its share of costs to improve road and rail access focussed on widening sections of the M11 and improving the capacity of the Stansted Express railway service.

Mr Clasper defended the cost of BAA's preferred scheme and said it represented a capital cost of £65 per extra passenger compared with £70 for a proposed extension project at Luton airport and the £95 per passenger paid for the second runway at Manchester airport.

Phase one of the Stansted scheme would cost £1.7bn and would raise capacity to 50m passengers a year. Subsequent phases would raise capacity to about 76m by 2030.

The proposals launched a public consultation exercise running to late March. It plans to publish a Master Plan for a two runway airport in summer next year, to be followed by an environmental impact assessment with a planning application due to be submitted in summer 2007, allowing a public inquiry to start in 2008.

Stansted, the most important airport in Europe for low-cost airlines, handled 21.9m passengers in the 12 months to November, compared with 67.7m at Heathrow and 32.6m at Gatwick. BAA forecast traffic growth at Stansted as 24.7m passengers in 2008 and 35m in 2015. The airport has planning permission to handle no more than 25m passengers and 241,000 take-offs and landings.

OUR COMMENT: There are four options selected - BAA prefers option A which is very similar to the original site plan though takes a little less land and therefore fewer properties, 87 as opposed to over 100. Figures given for numbers of people exposed to average noise levels of over 57LAeq dB are only 6,845. This figure would need independent checking as would local air pollution levels. It is probable that BAA is relying on future technical fixes improving aircraft performance that may or may not be forthcoming. The consultation finishes 24th March. There will be exhibitions at Stansted (January 16th), Birchanger (January 20th), Broxted (January 24th), Little Hadham (February 2nd), Bishop's Stortford (February 7th), Great Hallingbury (February 8th), Thaxted (February 14th), Hatfield Heath (February 16th), Takeley (February 17th), Dunmow (March 3rd) and Elsenham (March 6th). Nothing at Saffron Walden or Newport!

Pat Dale

12 December 2005


Environment Daily 1999 - 8 December 2005

The International civil aviation organisation (ICAO) pledged to do more to reduce the sector's greenhouse gas emissions on Wednesday.

European environmental group T&E also marked international civil aviation day by challenging industry claims of historical energy efficiency gains. Aviation organisations claim that aircraft have become 70% more efficient since the 1960s or 1970s.

In fact they are no more efficient now than the last generation of propeller aircraft, and no more than 55% more efficient than the first jet aircraft, T&E said.

12 December 2005


BBC Online News Report - 10 December 2005

Delegates at a UN climate conference in Canada have reportedly agreed on talks to cut greenhouse gases after 2012, but it is unclear if the US is included.

Just as a comment on the evolving US position in these negotiations (whatever that ends up being), my view always has been that because the Americans don't like being isolated (for various reasons: as a people, they are psychologically uncomfortable with that position; and there are also strong economic/ financial/ commercial reasons why business will not want this) that a 'strategy of isolation' was always our best bet. "Just leave them out, and sooner or later they will crack". Maybe this is now starting to happen as climate change starts to become an issue in internal US politics - witness the intervention of Clinton and others.

I only mention this because it calls into question - surprise, surprise - the judgement of Tony Blair from September onwards in saying that the European side of the argument had to make concessions and move away from a binding target regime in order to seek to entice the US into the negotiations. In fact just the opposite: by maintaining support for that sort of regime - which I think is what has been happening in Montreal - then this has simply increased the pressure on the US.

Yet another reason not to trust the judgement of the Prime Minister; his intervention then is shown up to be a fairly obvious and damaging miscalculation affecting the European position - which he is meant to be leading.

OUR COMMENT: We can also add - how can massive UK airport expansion be contemplated while promoting internationally a policy of reducing greenhouse gases?

Pat Dale

8 December 2005


Last September Uttlesford Council commissioned BMG Research to carry out a survey of residents' attitudes and concerns about the expansion of the existing runway to its maximum use. On Monday, December 5th, at a very lively public meeting, the results were announced.

The research team first held a series of 6 focus group discussions. They then interviewed 1208 residents, randomly selected, of whom approximately 35% lived within or around the official noise "annoyance" area of LAeq57dB or under the NPRs. 4% worked at the airport and a further 6% had a member of the family who worked there. 29% had never used the airport for a leisure flight and 82% had never taken a flight for business reasons.

Most (95%) were aware that the airport was in Uttlesford and that Uttlesford District Council is the Local Planning Authority (84%). 91% knew about the proposals for expansion, though on details fewer were certain as to what was involved. 79% mentioned the second runway, 43% said there would be an increase in passenger numbers and 29% more flights. The researchers commented that while it was made clear that this research was only into the proposals for the maximum use of the present runway, the possibility of a second runway was dominant in most people's minds.

Half of all those interviewed (50%) opposed BAA's proposals for the present runway. 26% were fully opposed. 27% supported the proposals, including 10% who were fully supportive. These views were not greatly influenced by where the respondents lived - 55% of those near the airport objected and 47% who lived further away. Support was greatest amongst those who had employment links with the airport (79%).

62% thought that some expansion might bring one or more benefits to the wider community, while 38% could not see any benefits. Benefits mentioned included more employment opportunities, a greater range of travel opportunities and benefits to the local economy.

86% mentioned one or more drawbacks - these included 67% of those who supported the expansion. Drawbacks mentioned included noise pollution (72%), air pollution (54%) and road traffic congestion (48%). The figures for noise pollution included 52% of those who supported expansion.

The researchers conclude that there is great concern amongst a majority of residents about the adverse effects of maximum use of the present runway, in particular noise and air pollution. A minority of residents are prepared to accept these environmental impacts for the economic benefits that they believe expansion might bring.

Pat Dale

8 December 2005


On Tuesday, December 6th, BAA held their annual Transport Forum, at which the Surface Access Strategy for the airport is reported on and invitees are able to question the progress and the policies.

This year speakers had been invited from both National Express coaches, One Rail, EEDA and the City of London, and much time was devoted to extolling the virtues of a successful and expanded airport. The Director General of EEDA (East of England Development Agency) gave his views on the economic importance of the airport, which contributed £400m to the regional economy and provided an essential service for the business community both for employees to fly on business, mainly to Europe or within the UK, for freight from and to local firms, as well as encouraging foreign tourists to visit East Anglia and spend money. Extending the airport's range of services would help business expansion. It would also help in the regeneration of Harlow and the Lea Valley.

The Transportation and Projects Director of the City of London Corporation emphasised the desirability of attracting more city businesses to use Stansted, giving his view that most international business could not be carried out through IT technology - personal contact was needed. However, their enthusiasm for Stansted was somewhat impaired by the figures provided both by the speakers and in the latest review of progress of the Stansted Access Strategy.

The number of business passengers is still small, 15.6% in 2004 compared with 82.1% for leisure or visits to friends and families. Most of these passengers are UK residents (64%). Tourism is a loss making "industry" as far as the UK economy is concerned. In relation to Stansted's importance to the Regional economy, its contribution appears from BAA's figures to be only 0.3%. Only 6.1% of the nearly 11,000 Stansted employees live in Harlow, 5.4% from Greater London.

We learnt that 66% of city business travellers use Heathrow, only 6.5% travel to Stansted, although the journey is relatively shorter and the fares are cheaper. The reason is that Stansted's destination airports are not near to the cities most visited by business travellers, so involving a further long coach or taxi journey. (This is an inescapable accompaniment of low cost travel, cheap airports are not near the big cities.)

In spite of all the flag waving, the Airport's Access Strategy is making some progress, though slowly. Coach access has been improved, notably round the clock so that public travel provision for night travel for shift workers and night passengers is easier. Rail use has marginally increased and is expected to improve now that One Rail has adjusted their time tables for the benefit of airport travellers (but to the detriment of local commuters, notably those from Stansted village station). There is also a stopping service from the airport to Stratford, designed to attract employees living along the line and no doubt looking ahead to the development of the Stratford mainline rail station and the Olympics. 28.8% of passengers now use rail for access and 11.4% bus or coach.

Further improvements in rail services to the airport are unlikely according to One Rail Projects Manager. And, according to EEDA, the Region's budget allocation up to 2016 will be nearly £5b short of the amount needed to satisfy the requirements of the level of economic development that they consider to be desirable. At the moment nearly 60% of passengers still use a private car, taxi or hired car. A cycling route is being developed with SUSTRANS which could benefit employees. In addition, employee car sharing is being promoted and the travel card option, which can offer considerable savings, has now been taken up by 14% employees. 78.6% though still drive to work.

The Area Forum has a wide representation from surrounding Councils and transport operators. Progress in reducing the use of the private car has been made, but no airport can have a really satisfactory access strategy without an adequate rail system. The present rail service has no east west element and future provision has been dismissed by the government as "uneconomic". Any further expansion of Stansted will clearly put an intolerable burden on the existing Stansted Express and London commuting services. Who would pay for major rail improvements? That question remains unanswered.

Pat Dale

8 December 2005


Business and service sectors 'should be forced to limit emissions'

Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - Financial Times - 6 December 2005

Service sector businesses and public sector organisations should be forced to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a leading government adviser on climate change and business will propose today.

The government is expected to consider the proposal as part of the review of its climate change programme. The review, which should be completed next year, is designed to find ways to meet Labour's manifesto promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010.

The government-funded Carbon Trust said that imposing a mandatory emissions trading scheme on services businesses, which tend to have lower emissions than manufacturing companies, was the best way of reducing the rising emissions from the sector.

Energy intensive businesses are required to limit their carbon dioxide output under the European Union's greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, which began on January 1.

However, manufacturers in less energy intensive sectors and service-based companies face no such obligations. These businesses, along with public sector organisations, make up almost a fifth of the UK's total emissions.

James Wilde, at the Carbon Trust, which yesterday received an extra £35m from the government to provide interest-free loans for energy saving measures to business and the public sector, told the Financial Times: "This is an option the government should definitely consider. We have analysed lots of different alternatives, and this is the simplest."

As proposed, the scheme should not involve any extra cost to companies and could result in cost savings. It would also let off many small companies by covering only sites with an electricity bill of more than £20,000 a year.

The scheme could be imposed at little or no cost by giving the companies a substantial rebate on their climate change levy, paid by businesses at a rate of 0.43p per kilowatt hour of electricity they consume.

At present, the climate change levy brings in about £1bn a year. Emissions from these companies would be calculated based on their energy consumption: companies with electricity bills over £20,000 a year tend to have their consumption metered at half-hour intervals, giving a clear picture of their usage.

There would be significant differences between this scheme and the EU's. Under EU rules, businesses are issued with free credits based on the amount of carbon dioxide they need to emit to carry on their operations.

In future stages of the scheme, this allowance will be cut so that companies are forced to reduce their emissions or pay to buy allowances from other companies that have cut theirs. Under the Carbon Trust's proposals, the government would set an overall emissions limit and companies would have to bid against one another in an auction to buy allowances equal to the number they expect to need.

Mr Wilde said such a scheme could be implemented by 2008 and could save businesses money by encouraging them to implement energy efficiency programmes.

OUR COMMENT: What about aviation?

Pat Dale

8 December 2005


Press Release - Friends of the Earth - 7 December 2005

Ministers arriving in Montreal for the UN Climate Talks must push ahead for international action and not allow the US administration to hold the world hostage, Friends of the Earth urged today (Wednesday 7th December). The world's biggest polluter has refused to enter in to dialogue on future action on tackling climate change at the talks and has walked away from efforts by other countries to bring it on board.

Friends of the Earth International is urging Minister Dion as president of the talks, and Margaret Beckett, UK Secretary of State for the Environment, negotiating here on behalf of the EU, to strive for concrete outcomes from these talks. It is calling for a commitment to a clear timetable and process for future negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol. This means abandoning the flawed strategy of trying to bring the US on board.

The environmental campaign group also wants to see industrialised countries recognise their responsibilities under the Kyoto Protocol and commit to deepening their emissions cuts as well as providing financial support for the developing countries to embark on a clean development path.

Speaking in Montreal, Friends of the Earth International Vice Chair Tony Juniper said: "Ministers must use the next few days to aim for a historic breakthrough on taking forward action under the Kyoto Protocol. People expect their governments to act – and that means industrialised countries must commit to a clear timeline for developing new targets and action by 2008, ready for implementation in the second phase of the Protocol in 2013.

"By reaching such an agreement, countries negotiating here will be sending a clear signal that low carbon economies are the future. These talks have seen positive moves from developing countries to face up to the challenge of tackling climate change. But the emerging economies must also be given the support and assistance they need to move down a sustainable energy track."

Current funding mechanisms for the least developed countries do not match the level of need and many developed countries have failed to pay in the amounts promised. Assistance is also needed in the form of pilot projects to show that sustainable energy solutions are a practical option for developing economies.

Commenting on the position of the UK Government, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, Tony Juniper added:

"These talks are a key test of the UK and the EU's commitment to tackling climate change. They have rightly wanted to bring the United States on board – but the sad reality is that the current administration is not interested in addressing the problem. Action is already happening in America, with business and local government moving forward. The world must move ahead in the expectation that future US governments will be more willing to join in."

8 December 2005


Aircraft Fuel Efficiency Claims 'Are False'

Geoff Meade, Europe Editor - Press Association News, Brussels - 7 December 2005

Commercial aircraft are using as much fuel as the planes of half a century ago, it was claimed today. A generally accepted aviation industry statistic citing a 70% increase in fuel efficiency is false, a Dutch aerospace report says.

The report, published on International Civil Aviation Day, says the apparent massive improvement claimed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) resulted from comparing early jet aircraft with their modern equivalents. But the early jet engines were notoriously thirsty because of the focus on speed, according to the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR).

A fairer comparison, the report says, would have been between modern jet planes and the old propeller aircraft - some of which used no more fuel than today's flights.

The NLR report, published by the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E), was commissioned to investigate aviation sector environmental claims, including IATA's statement in a review last year that "aircraft entering today's fleets are 70% more fuel-efficient than they were 40 years ago''.

The NLR, an aerospace research institute, said the original source of the figure was a 1999 International Panel on Climate Change, which had only examined jet-era aircraft. "Today's commercial passenger planes are no more fuel-efficient than their equivalents of 50 years ago and aviation industry claims of a 70% improvement in fuel efficiency are false'' said a T&E statement today.

"The (NLR) report shows that the focus on speed that led to the introduction of jet engines in the 1960s caused a massive initial reduction in fuel efficiency that is only now being recovered. For example, the Lockheed Super Constellation of the mid-1950s was at least twice as fuel-efficient as the first jets, and as efficient as today's aircraft.''

The NLR report also warns against aviation industry forecasts of future fuel efficiency improvements, saying that "many studies on predicted gains in the future tend to be rather optimistic". T&E director Jos Tings said: "The industry has deliberately misled the public to cover up its failure to improve efficiency. There is no reason to believe they will prioritise efficiency in the future unless governments step in with serious incentives to cut emissions.''

T&E, which promotes environmentally-friendly transport, published the Dutch report to boost its campaign for a crackdown on aircraft emissions, currently exempt from agreements on engine pollution limits.

The EU recently proposed including such emissions into its laws from 2009, but T&E wants tougher moves, including aircraft fuel taxes, "to bring about meaningful cuts in emissions''.

8 December 2005


1,000 more flights as ministers scrap limit

Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 7 December 2005

MORE than a thousand additional airliners a week will fly over London under government plans to tear up a commitment to limit the number of flights at Heathrow. Large areas of West London will be blighted by a proposal to use both runways for landings for much of the day.

Ministers intend to scrap the existing policy of managing Heathrow's two runways to give people under the flight path some respite from aircraft noise for half the day. At present, one runway is used for landings and the other for take-offs, with their roles switching at 3pm each day.

The Department for Transport will issue a consultation paper around Easter proposing the abolition of "runway alternation". It would be replaced by "mixed mode", under which the runways would effectively be treated as separate airports. Planes would land simultaneously from the same direction, with passengers able to see another aircraft on a parallel course only a few hundred metres away.

BAA, which owns Heathrow, believes mixed mode will raise the airport's capacity by between 15 and 20 per cent, or about 80,000 flights a year. It had told the planning inquiry into Terminal 5 that it was "firmly opposed" to mixed mode. But with construction of the new terminal now more than half-complete, the company has changed its position. BAA is also supporting the removal of the cap of 480,000 flights a year, which was imposed by the inquiry inspector as a planning condition for Terminal 5.

This year, Heathrow will handle 470,000 flights and 68 million passengers. Terminal 5 will be able to accommodate a further 30 million passengers, but the extra capacity cannot be fully exploited without lifting the cap on flights.

The Government has proposed a third runway at Heathrow, but this would not open until 2015 at the earliest. BAA believes mixed mode could be introduced by 2010. It said: "Next year's consultation should certainly look at lifting the flights cap. Heathrow is a strategically important national asset and getting more people to use it is good for the British economy."

"But that has to be balanced against the interests of people under the flight path. This has got to be a Government decision, not one made by BAA."

Moving to mixed mode may also require changes to the four stacks in which aircraft circle while waiting for permission to land. National Air Traffic Services, the air traffic control authority, is studying whether the stacks will have to be moved. This could affect tens of thousands of homes on the outskirts of Greater London.

ClearSkies, which represents people living under flight paths, accused BAA of colluding with the Government to scrap the cap on flights at Heathrow. John Stewart, chairman of ClearSkies, said: "We must keep runway alternation because it makes life just about bearable for tens of thousands of people west of Heathrow. Without it, they will face planes every 90 seconds from early morning to late evening."

Next year's consultation is likely to offer several options, including allowing mixed mode only in the early morning and late afternoon when the airport is busiest. But ClearSkies believes it will only be a matter of time before rising demand for flights prompts a further relaxation of the rules to allow mixed mode all day.

4 December 2005


Extract from Parliamentary Transport Committee - session on Departmental Annual Report
Evidence from Alistair Darling

2 December 2005

Q102 Graham Stringer: Secretary of State, can you tell us what progress is being made on the air quality studies at Heathrow and whether you expect a decision in the near future about a third runway which is dependent on those air quality studies? Also, do you think that the behaviour of BAA is becoming an obstacle to the Department's policies on having a third runway at Heathrow if the air quality allows it?

Mr Darling: On the first point, good progress is being made. I think I am right in saying it will be the second half of next year before conclusions are reached but progress is being made on that and, for the sake of completeness, on mixed mode operation which we also set out in the White Paper. The short answer to your second point is no, but if you care to be more specific, I could try and answer it.

Q103 Graham Stringer: The airlines, Virgin, BA, other users, are complaining bitterly that a lot of investment is being made at Stansted which is being cross-subsidised by Heathrow and Gatwick, they do not believe a second runway at Stansted is viable without cross-subsidy and they are dissatisfied with the way BAA are dealing with their own investment plans to the detriment of a possible third runway at Heathrow.

Mr Darling: In relation to that, the degree to which any cross-subsidy is allowed is a matter for the CAA as the regulator. As you know with all these things, it is not surprising that airlines which are in competition with each other are usually quite critical of measures which they think might help their competitor. For example, when you talk about facilities at Heathrow, you will find all those airlines which are not going into Terminal 5 are busy saying, "Why are BAA building a splendid new terminal like that?" Obviously, British Airways are not saying that because it is going into it. I do not know if you saw it, but BAA last week announced a plan which I think looks quite promising if they can do it, and that is to replace the existing Terminals 1 and 2 with a similar sort of terminal to Terminal 5. I may say that when Terminal 5 is opened in 2008, it will make a significant difference to the quality of services available at Heathrow because it is completely different from the terminal capacity which is there at the moment. If you go back to the Aviation White Paper which we published in December 2003 - and that remains our policy and will remain our policy - we believe that we do need over the next 30 years additional runway capacity in the South East. We believe that Stansted is where the first runway ought to be and BAA are pressing ahead with that, but they are also making improvements with existing infrastructure at Heathrow. You will always get airlines complaining, for reasons which are understandable if not always acceptable.

Q104 Graham Stringer: I accept that reservation about airlines but are you satisfied with the way BAA are constructing their investment programme?

Mr Darling: Yes. Bear in mind that this is a private company and it is for their shareholders ultimately to determine whether or not they are acting properly.

Q105 Graham Stringer: But you must take a close interest.

Mr Darling: I take an extremely close interest in anybody who has anything to do with transport, I can assure you. If you ask me, are they doing what we expect in terms of the implementation of what we set out in the White Paper, yes I think they are. We always made it clear in the White Paper that it was a strategic framework against which the industry could plan but it was for industry to decide the exact progress they made, whether these things were economically viable or whether they should be built, and that is the process they are going through with that second runway at Stansted and which people are working on towards getting planning permission. The decision that BAA make in regard to Terminal 1 and 2 is a commercial decision they have made. It is entirely consistent with what we said in relation to Heathrow when we see Heathrow continuing to be what it is, which is the busiest international airport in the world. It brings an awful lot of benefit to West London as well as to London and the UK itself.


Regional access to global gateways

Speech by Karen Buck to the Royal Aeronautical Society - Dft Online - 30 November 2005

As you know, the Government's Aviation Transport White Paper set out a strategic framework for the development of airport capacity over the next 30 years. It not only set directions on environmental issues. It dealt with the growth of the south east airports. And, importantly, it strongly supported the growth of regional airports.

Growing success of regional airports
And that's because the economic benefits they can bring to a region are tremendous. People want to fly from their local airport - rather than travel the length of the country to get a flight. And with ever greater choices of flights these days, regional airports help take pressure off airports in the south east. Indeed, with the advent of low cost carriers, regional airports like Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol are positively booming. They're actually growing faster than those in the south east. Robin Hood is another huge success story, having gained half a million passengers just six months after opening. And it's no secret that Government has looked carefully at what can be done to assist the growth of regional airport still further.

Core cities
As some of you may know, I along with David Milliband and other ministers, have been attending what are known as the City Summits - organised by the Core Cities Group. For those that don't know, the English Core Cities Group comprises Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle Nottingham and Sheffield. These cities are the backbone of the UK economy. They have the potential to drive regional and national economic growth and create internationally competitive regions. And the message coming from every City is just how important the transport agenda is - and that includes airports which are seen as key gateways to international markets.

Regional fifths
One of the keys to unlock the potential of these cities is the development of new international services via the so-called 'fifth freedom' services. These are services by overseas carriers which can pick up and drop off passengers at UK regional airports en-route to other international destinations. For example an Asian carrier can fly in to Manchester, and then pick up further passengers for an onward flight to New York. In the complex and out-moded system of bilateral treaties which govern international aviation, the rights for airlines to offer such services are often heavily restricted. In September we reaffirmed our preference for removing these restrictions. We announced that in future we will operate a presumption in favour of any requests for new "fifth freedom" rights from regional airports. We invited foreign airlines to submit expressions of interest, and made clear we will look favourably on these, subject to certain conditions. This is specifically designed to help regional airports to market themselves abroad and attract extra business. The introduction of new international services at an airport can only benefit the regional economy. Airlines win because they can develop new routes and avoid the congestion of Heathrow. And passengers outside of the south east will also benefit from a greater choice of flights and destinations from their local airports.

Route Development Funds
We're doing all we can to encourage sustainable growth for regional airports in other ways. For example, we've seen Scotland and Northern Ireland develop successful models for Route Development Funds. These have stimulated new services and levels of connectivity for the areas concerned. For example, in 2003 Belfast had just one international scheduled route. The Northern Ireland Route Development Fund has added a further six, including a New York service which offers onward connections throughout the United States. Similar network expansion has been seen in Scotland, with new routes to European business destinations. And a Dubai service provides opportunities to connect to flights to the Far East and Australasia. The start-up routes supported by the Funds are targeted at the business and inward tourism markets. It is already clear that they are generating substantial economic benefits for their regional economies. And on the basis of this success we've invited the English Regional Development Agencies to consider a similar approach. I'm pleased that the North West Regional Development Agency has already seized the opportunity - and I hope others will follow. Regional Development Funds have to abide by European Commission principles of course. They can't breach rules on state aid. But assuming our current discussions with the Commission are successful, we'll publish a protocol in the near future establishing a framework for the operation of all UK funds. And we'll continue to work closely with the fund operators to ensure that they reap the full benefits of their investments.

Public service obligations
Naturally, we recognise the concern of regional stakeholders about access to London airports. In the White Paper we indicated Government's readiness to impose Public Service Obligations in certain limited circumstances. Following consultation last year, we're finalising guidance on the circumstances when this policy might be implemented. We're asking airlines to take part in an early warning system. This would provide notice of airlines intending to withdraw from or reduce services on regional routes. If there were a four month notice period, this would allow us the time to explore solutions that would ensure the continuity of a service into London.

Regional centres of excellence
We're also keen to support the development of regional centres of excellence in civil aircraft maintenance. This is designed not only to support the operations of the UK's airlines. It's also designed to encourage the growth of the MRO sector in the UK and in doing so, assist regional economic development and free up valuable space at overcrowded airports in the South East. 'Flybe', the low-cost regional airline, is a good example of this in practice. Its maintenance operation at Exeter Airport is recognised as a high-quality commercial operation. But it's also important because of the modern apprentice scheme which Flybe operates, helping to attract young people into the industry. I know that a number of schemes for aviation training establishments are being worked up, perhaps following the example of the very successful Newcastle Aviation Academy.

Air quality and noise
We all know how the aviation industry substantially benefits Britain's economy in many different ways. But as was laid out in the White Paper, we must balance these benefits against the wider environmental impacts of aviation such as aircraft noise, air quality and emissions. There have been quite substantial improvements to the noise levels of aircraft in recent years. Nevertheless, communities affected by noise have a right to know their interests are being taken into account. On a national scale, the impact of air transport on air quality is small - certainly when compared with road traffic for example - but its effect can be significant in individual cases. And it is for this reason we intend to give special powers to the Secretary of State. Where there are local air quality problems, he'll be able to direct that an emissions related element be included in landing charges.

Emissions trading
Needless to say, the problem of climate change is central to any debate on the future of aviation. Forecasts have suggested that by 2030 CO2 emissions from UK aviation could amount to as much as eighteen million tonnes of carbon. Assuming other sectors meet the Energy White Paper goals of a 60% reduction by 2050 - then aviation could account for around a quarter of the UK's total contribution to global warming by 2030. Therefore much more has to be done to limit the environmental impacts of air travel. And this is why we're taking an international lead in calling for action. The Government believes the best way for aviation to contribute to the goal of climate stabilisation is through a well-designed emissions trading regime. We're pressing for this through the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The Organisation's Contracting States have all endorsed the development of an open emissions trading scheme for international aviation. Work is now taking place to produce guidance to assist those wishing to participate in any such schemes. In the meantime, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme provides a invaluable opportunity to demonstrate EU leadership in this area. We're using our Presidency to press for the inclusion of aviation in the Scheme. We believe it's a flexible alternative to direct regulation. And it offers an environmentally effective and economically efficient means for the industry to contribute to the goal of climate stabilisation. However, the advent of an emissions trading scheme doesn't absolve the industry from tackling climate change in other ways. We would like to see improved working practices; There needs to be further research and development; And voluntary emissions control along with sustainability strategies have a role to play as well. It's very much in the industry's interests to pursue these initiatives and Government is committed to ensuring that the industry takes responsibility for tackling the problem.

This said, the industry is to be congratulated for the massive strides it's made in recent years in terms of reducing its environmental impacts. The concept of sustainability sitting comfortably alongside projections for growth once seemed an incongruous impossibility. But I believe the White Paper successfully balances environmental concerns against the huge economic benefits the aviation industry brings to this country. With new opportunities to develop business, With ever increasing numbers of passengers And with more carriers opening up even more destinations, Regional airports are becoming an increasingly important contributor to the nation's economic prosperity. And we're doing all we can to help continue that trend.

Thank you.

(This speech represented existing departmental policy but the words may not have been the same as those used by the Minister)


Campaigners put fears to minister

Dunmow Broadcaster - 1 December 2005

ROAD traffic generated by the development of Stansted Airport was at the top of the agenda at a meeting involving Aviation Minister Karen Buck last Wednesday, November 23.

In attendance were MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign director Carol Barbone, the group's economic spokesman Brian Ross, and a number of senior civil servants.

It was pointed out to the minister that more than 70 percent of Stansted users travel to the airport by road and that the airport already has more car parking provision than Heathrow and more even than Atlanta, the world's largest airport.

Ms Barbone and Mr Ross urged the minister to support a 'Lo-car' strategy for Stansted aimed at reducing the amount of car traffic generated by the airport and pressed for proper investment in the rail network so that it could handle a bigger share of airport users without cutting back on services to local commuters.

They also pressed her to support restrictions on airport car parking, measures to combat local fly parking and support Essex County Council's proposal for an airport access levy for all private vehicles.

The minister reportedly confirmed that SSE's proposals were fully consistent with the government's policy of getting people out of their cars and onto public transport and that responsibility for paying for any improvements to the rail infrastructure to serve the airport lay with BAA.

Regular train user Sir Alan referred to "years of chronic underfunding" on the main rail line to Liverpool Street and to BAA's failure to support the level of rail investment necessary to accommodate the growing number of airport passengers.

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Barbone said: "Whilst reaffirming SSE's outright opposition to the unsustainable expansion of Stansted Airport there was a meeting of minds on the unacceptability of 'Stansted Carport'.

4 December 2005


EU "on track" to comply with Kyoto Targets

Environment Daily 1994 - 1 December 2005

The EU is "well on its way" to achieving its Kyoto target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a report by the European commission indicated on Thursday. New projections show that EU-15 countries can meet and even exceed their commitment to reduce output to 8% below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

According to the projections, the EU-15 are headed towards emissions 6.8% below 1990 levels by 2010, taking into account both existing policies and those "already in an advanced state of planning". Counting commitments by nine EU-15 states to purchase foreign emission credits through the Kyoto flexible mechanisms the projected figure reaches -9.3%.

The projection is slightly more optimistic than previous estimates released last year, which put the EU-15's potential, including new policies and use of the Kyoto mechanism, at -8.6% by 2010.

The commission expects the EU-25 - which does not face a collective Kyoto commitment - to perform even better. With planned additional measures it is projected to be 9.3% below 1990 levels by 2010. With Kyoto mechanisms this rises to -11.4%.

Amidst the good news the report shows that Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain are currently not on track to meet their national targets even allowing for commitments to buy foreign Kyoto credits made by Italy and Spain. Only seven countries - the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia - are projected to meet their national targets without having to purchase credits.

Among existing policies counted by the commission are the EU emissions trading scheme, voluntary commitments by the car industry, and third-country projects already implemented. Additional policies are initiatives announced for the second phase of the European climate change programme. The use of carbon sinks such as forests to offset emissions was not taken into account in projections.

4 December 2005


Environment Daily 1995 - 2 December 2005

EU environment ministers gave strong support on Friday to plans for a European greenhouse gas emission trading scheme for aviation. In conclusions adopted at their last quarterly meeting of the year in Brussels, they called on the European commission to put forward legislation before the end of 2006, based on a model "that can be extended or replicated world-wide".

The conclusions respond to a commission policy paper on aviation and climate change published in September.

Notably, ministers call for carriers from both EU and third countries to be included in the scheme, and say their preferred option would be to cover all flight departures rather than just intra-EU flights. The statement increases the chances of a row with the USA, which wants its carriers exempted.

Both CO2 and non-CO2 impacts should be covered "to the extent possible", the conclusions state. They also call for the EU aviation working group set up under the bloc's new European climate change programme to address competition issues.

Ministers also stressed the need for harmonisation in the way emission allowances are distributed. However, the conclusions give no indication of how quickly ministers want an aviation emission trading scheme to launch.

The EU's outgoing UK presidency, which drafted the conclusions, welcomed ministers' request for a legislative proposal next year. Irish environment minister Dick Roche warned of the risk of triggering a dispute with the USA and cautioned that emission trading must not disrupt international air services "stifle the extraordinary innovative capacity" of low-cost airlines like Ireland's Ryanair.

OUR COMMENT: More favourable measures for low cost airlines? This is not compatible with the aims of the emissions trading scheme.

Pat Dale

4 December 2005


10 things you can do at home

The Independent - 3 December 2005

TVs, videos and computers left on standby can use up to 85 per cent of the energy they would if fully on. The power wasted releases an extra one million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year, contributing to global warming.

Use public transport to get to work whenever possible. Motorists who drive 100 miles a week generate 1,872kg of CO2 a year. Train or bus commuters travelling the same distance create just 520kg.

Filling a tub needs 75 litres of water, whereas a five-minute shower uses 30 litres. Buy a water-saving showerhead (£15) to end drips. Cuts the average bill by £125 a year.

Turn down the temperature by two degrees celsius, cutting the average heating bill by £40 a year and emissions by up to 270kg. Set your washing machine to as cool a wash as possible; followed twice a week, emissions will be cut by 225kg a year. Fit an insulating jacket around a hot water tank, cutting emissions by 80kg a year.

Fill your shopping basket with local produce, eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Food imported by air contributes many times its own weight in CO2 emissions by the time it reaches the UK.

Just one fewer load a week reduces CO2 emissions by 91kg a year. Avoid putting very damp clothes in by wringing out first.

More than 40 per cent of heat lost from the home escapes through walls and lofts. Insulating lofts to a depth of 250mm can slash heating bills by a quarter. Insulating cavity walls, which costs about £550, can cut heating bills by a third and emissions by 900kg a year. Fit insulating film over windows. At £1 a pane it can reduce a household's emissions by 450kg a year.

Giving up on foreign trips will help cut down aviation emissions. A flight to Athens emits 2,336kg of CO2 per passenger.

If each home recycled 50 per cent of its output, the UK's annual CO2 emissions would drop by six million tonnes. The energy saved by recycling a single drinks can is enough to run a TV set for three hours.

Energy-saving lightbulbs use less than a quarter of the electricity, last 12 times longer than standard light bulbs and produce 50kg less CO2 during their lifetime. They cost £4.


The Independent - 3 December 2005

Current atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and methane are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years, while sea levels may be rising twice as fast as in previous centuries. New laws committing governments to reducing CO2 every year by a fixed amount are essential.

Governments fear discussing the impact of climate change for fear of upsetting the economy. But campaigns of the kind used in the UK to tackle health issues like smoking are needed to shock the public out of a naivety that ranks climate change as less important than terrorism, Third World debt and Aids.

Raise vehicle excise duty on fuel-heavy cars; make it more than £1,000 in the UK with further planned rises. Insist on a health warning on the side, similar to packets of cigarettes: "This Vehicle Damages The Environment, Your Health And Your Future."

Biofuels, which are made from crops do not add to the emissions of CO2. They are "carbon neutral" because the CO2 they produce when burnt was absorbed from the atmosphere by the crops used to make them. Governments of industrialised nations should draw up biofuel obligations requiring oil companies to blend a fixed proportion of biofuels with all the fuel that they sell in garages.

Raise air passenger duty to end flights cheap on the pocket and pricey to the stratosphere (CO2 emissions from aircraft are rising faster than any other source). End the oopholes which allow most airlines to escape paying fuel duty.

Rapidly expanding industrial economies such as China and India must be bound to meeting environmental targets, in the same way that the Kyoto protocol legally binds 141 countries to cutting pollutant greenhouse gases.

The world leaders concerned about global warming need to bend the ear of America's leader - who in turn needs to placate the oil lobby. Without the United States, the fight against climate change lacks conviction or global reach.

Legislate that new buildings in industrial nations should be CO2-free, with a power station in the basement. Features should include solar panel roofs, and mini-wind turbines to soap up wasted heat.Governments should have targets, audited by an independent body with sanctioning powers.

Properly fund and support renewable energies other than wind. These have vast potential to supply CO2-free electricity but are underdeveloped. Oblige electricity supply companies to provide an increasing amount of their power from renewable sources.

Renew the impetus behind off-shore wind farms through government development subsidies. Few coastal nations are making any progress. The UK made a good start but stalled after technical and financial difficulties.

4 December 2005


For whom the decibels toll

Andrew Martin - New Statesman - 2 December 2005

Special report - The night before Andrew Martin took his first flight, at the age of 13, he couldn't sleep for excitement. These days he's rather less happy about the planes that keep him wide awake.

In deep countryside you have a view of the stars at night. In London you might see what you think is a star, but it will immediately begin bustling towards you, blinking furiously and accompanied either by a whine, similar in sound and effect to the dentist's drill, or by a grating roar, like somebody dragging a heavy packing case across the floor of the flat above. I took my first flight at the age of 13. It would have been 1975. Destination: Innsbruck, on a school skiing trip, and I didn't sleep for excitement the night before. The carrier was Dan Air, which sounds - intentionally, for all I know - like Dan Dare. I loved aeroplanes at that point, but I have a different view now. That business of familiarity breeding contempt, I suppose. It's not that I fly very often; it's just that I live in central north London.

We're 20 miles from Heathrow here, and five years ago aircraft noise was not a factor. Today . . . well, a poll conducted by our MP showed that 45 per cent in the constituency are troubled by it, and I can watch those distant stars mutating into aeroplanes every 90 seconds for hours on end. It's grotesque but also fascinating, like watching a magician who produces not just one handkerchief from his hat but dozens and dozens in rapid succession.

In October I made my way by bike, under the aeroplane-filled night sky, to Westminster Central Hall, where a meeting was being held to mark the end of the public consultation on government proposals for extra night flights at Heathrow and Stansted. The mood was one of muted fury. After all, whenever protesters and the aviation industry have done battle, the latter has always won, or been allowed to win by governments. As though still transfixed by the miracle of manned flight, British governments have given the aviation industry everything it has wanted ever since it began, and none has been more generous than the present one, whose white paper of 2003 envisages a threefold increase in civil aviation over the next 30 years. The pattern has been as follows: government/aviation industry proposal for expansion; consultation; expansion plan proceeded with. (The consultation is conducted so that the British Airports Authority - BAA - can begin press releases, "After extensive consultation . . .")

But as the preparations for the meeting continued, a frisson of excitement began to develop. People just kept on streaming into the room allocated to the meeting, so we had to shift into the biggest one in the building; then the MPs entered. I have seldom seen so many in one place outside parliament - more than 40 in all. As they spoke, they ranged beyond night flights, and speaker after speaker made the same point: that the untrammelled expansion of aviation has become more than worrying; it is horrific. It is a slow disaster for the character of London and the countryside. As for carbon emissions, it is as though Britannia, diagnosed as suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, were to treat herself to a few cases of whisky. Aviation is the fastest-rising cause of our carbon emissions, and one of the easiest to check - as Tony Blair, at the UN climate-change conference in Montreal, is presumably rather guiltily (if silently) aware.

Let's stick with noise for a minute, though. Here's a scenario from the past five years. You buy a property in the south-east of England. Not a property under one of the predetermined noise preference routes (NPR), along which planes leaving airports are supposed to stick until 4,000ft high. No, a quiet property in a quiet area. After a year or so, you notice an aeroplane overhead. It is approaching the airport, subjecting you to the dentist's drill noise, but it's a novelty, and beautiful, as individual aircraft are. A day later there's another. Soon, there are a dozen a day . . . twenty a day . . . fifty . . . a hundred . . . five hundred.

You investigate, and realise that incoming planes go only where the air-traffic controllers send them. Safety in the air is paramount and no outside interference can be brooked. You complain to BAA and you receive - just after you've given up hope of ever being replied to - a letter beginning: "We acknowledge that aircraft noise can be one of the most significant environmental aspects of airport operation and development." You also receive a map showing aircraft movements in your area.

On reading through this material, you realise with alarm that Heathrow - the likely cause of your problem, being the world's biggest international airport - is actually in the wrong place. It takes about five seconds to reach that conclusion, and a further two to think of a better spot: somewhere within striking distance of London, yet near the sea, over which most aircraft can be harmlessly directed . . . the Thames Estuary!

Permission was given for Heathrow in 1944, while Winston Churchill had his mind on other things. When the wind is westerly (which it is for 70 per cent of the time) all approaching air-craft arrive over London. When the wind is easterly London is, so to speak, fucked from the other direction: Berkshire gets the dentist's drill, and those in the capital under the NPRs get the dragged packing case.

Filing the BAA bumf in the bin, and realising you have no option but to take legal action, you call a lawyer who tells you that legislation enacted in the 1920s prevents any action over noise nuisance from aircraft. You now consider moving, but where is safe from the brash-hued hulls of easyJet and the like? You read a newspaper report about how flight paths are being created over open countryside all around Britain. And so you eventually end up at Westminster Central Hall reflecting on this, the latest of many fights you've had to conduct in order to secure a standard of civilisation you'd thought to be your birthright: that against night flights.

All along the back of the room in Central Hall were children from around Stansted. They held up placards broadcasting a demand shocking only in its modesty. They sought an uninterrupted night's sleep. Not a lie-in.

They defined night very stringently as 11pm to 7am, but for the purpose of aviation noise, the government defines night more stringently still: as lasting from 11.30pm to 6am. The limiting "night quota" of flights - which the government is seeking to increase - applies only in that time, stopping short of the cacophonous morning peak.

The protesters once nearly had a success on this. In 2001, Hacan ClearSkies won a victory at the European Court of Human Rights, securing a declaration that a peaceful night's sleep was a basic human right. The government and British Airways had it overturned, arguing that night flights were essential to the UK economy. It's very hard to see how this can be true. Even at mighty Heathrow there are currently 16 flights per night, on average, and the main beneficiaries are businessmen who are thereby able to arrive at their destinations at a sociable hour.

No, the chief practical consequence of those flights is that they keep people awake, adding sleeplessness to the other known inflictions of aircraft noise: stress, high blood pressure, rage, lapses in concentration (children at school under flight paths perform worse, not least because the teacher has to stop talking every 90 seconds). I should mention here that in 2000 the government signed World Health Organisation guidelines to the effect that people ought not to be exposed to more than 60 decibels at night. If this were applied immediately, no British airport would operate at night. A very attractive prospect to you and me, of course, and not so outlandish (City Airport doesn't operate at night), but not so attractive to the industry, which is why the government treats achievement of those standards as a long-term aim.

Of more consequence is a clause in the Civil Aviation Bill going through parliament, which allows the secretary of state to set night-flight levels not by numbers of flights but by noise and carbon-emission levels. The minister will be able to take the total sound energy emitted during any night and divide it by six and a half hours. This - the "noise budget" - is a sort of fudge-making mechanism, a sleight of hand that will allow the government to say, "Yes, we're allowing more aircraft but overall they make less noise," whereas the nub of the matter is not a mathematical question of noise (as the shadow transport minister, Alan Duncan, recently said to me, "decibels are balls") but whether any given aircraft wakes up hundreds of thousands of citizens under its path. Similarly surreal formulae are applied to measurement of noise caused by daytime flights, and in 2002 BA nerved itself to claim that: "Heathrow has seen a record of continuous long-term improvement in the noise climate, with the number of people within its 'noise footprint' reducing from two million to about 300,000 over the past 25 years." It's magic, I tell you!

But to come back to reality, the government is proposing its biggest increase in night flights for Stansted - a rise of 41 per cent above current levels. The brilliantly organised Stop Stansted Expansion group has fought the proposal all the way, but it is simultaneously battling on another, wider front opened up by the white paper of 2003. On presenting the paper, the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling, said of our crowded air lanes, "Doing nothing is not an option" - whereas in fact that might have been a good idea.

Instead, the white paper sets about the challenge of meeting that rapidly rising demand for flights, even though the demand is based on what the government has elsewhere admitted to be "an anomaly", namely the exemption from tax of aviation fuel. This represents a loss to the public coffers of £9bn a year, which means that we're all paying for cheap flights, even if we don't take them.

And how is the planned tripling of aviation compatible with the government's aim of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent before 2050? (If that still is the aim, because Blair is changing his "thinking" on targets.) According to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, the circle can be squared only if everybody else stops producing any carbon emissions at all.

There is one person in Britain ringing "alarm bells of urgency" on climate change at the same time as encouraging a huge expansion in aviation, and that's Blair. The contradiction is easily explained. On the one hand, in February 2005, he said to a meeting of MPs: "Hands up around this table . . . how many politicians facing a potential election at some point in the not-too-distant future would vote to end cheap air travel?" On the other hand he wants to look as though he's doing something about climate change.

We will all pay for this expansion, some of us with our lives. The white paper spared the haggard folk living around Heathrow the further burden of another runway - for now, but only because pollution there is so high that it is likely soon to contravene EU directives. Instead, the white paper - in defiance of hundreds of pages' worth of argument from Stop Stansted Expansion - proposed that the new runway deemed necessary be built at Stansted. BAA is now pressing for this, but it is uncertain how it can afford to build it without transferring profits from Heathrow, which is not currently allowed.

Anyway, most of the aviation industry wants the new runway not at Stansted but at Heathrow, where all their hardware is based. BAA has just published its interim master plan for Heathrow. Arguably the word "interim" mitigates the horror of "master plan", but only slightly, and the content is frightening enough. It concerns not just the £4bn earmarked for Terminal Five, but also a further £3bn for the rejuvenation of the rest of the airport. According to the requirements of the white paper, a boundary for a possible third runway has also been earmarked while the government gears up for a big campaign of spin about local pollution.

As if this weren't enough to worry about, British Airways is now proposing to erode the scheme of runway alternation at the airport which provides some respite for locals. At the moment, planes land on one of the two runways from 7am until 3pm, and on the other thereafter, but BA and other carriers would like to use both runways from 4am to 11.30pm. The millions around Heathrow plan their weddings and garden fetes according to this alternation, but it is most important to allow the airlines to "grow their businesses", as BAA, with its special gift for language, keeps reminding us. The consultation on this latest assault will begin in spring, and maybe there will be another petition in Richmond. There was one recently on the night flights question, and the local MP, Susan Kramer, mentioned it at the Westminster meeting: "Somebody came up to sign every 90 seconds," she said - "just as often as the planes were coming in overhead."

1 December 2005


BAA - the great seducer

Our MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst, in his constituency Newsletter writes:

Watch out! Airport operator BAA is on a charm offensive. The company is out to persuade you that there is absolutely nothing to fear in letting it have full use of its present runway at Stansted, a decision which would see passenger numbers rise to 35 million passengers per annum and possibly beyond.

Yet already we know the downside. From Lamarsh to Langley and from the Chesterfords to Hatfield Heath there are few communities in the constituency which are unaware by now of what it means to have an international airport as a neighbour. Complaints come from village after village as the sounds of aircraft become more frequent and more intrusive. In some places there are fumes and ground noise to cope with as well. All this could quadruple in intensity if BAA gets its second runway. Against such a background the benefits seem puny.

Thank you, BAA, we've got the jobs and access to cheap flights. What most people do not want is further despoliation of our countryside, an increase in night flying, congested roads, a railway system under appalling strain, a threat to health, an acceleration to climate change and a slow march to urbanisation. All these are factors that BAA tries to brush aside. Its campaign for a 35mppa capacity at Stansted would have you believe that it can all be done without your noticing the difference. Phooey!

The company also seeks to present its forthcoming planning application as a one-off bearing no reference or relationship to the second runway project which is around the corner. Many people are rightly asking how you can judge the first without knowing exactly what BAA intends to come up with next. Its aim is to woo the population into a false sense of wellbeing until step by step we find that we have in our midst an airport larger than Heathrow. The analogy of smarmy suitors lustfully pursuing virtuous maidens is hard to resist.

What can we do when such a ruthless predator is around? Well, resist, of course, as no doubt the mothers of maidens warned. The resistance mounted so far by Stop Stansted Expansion has been impressive. How splendid it was, incidentally, that their former Chairman, Norman Mead of Great Hallingbury, was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. SSE has been steadily picking BAA's arguments apart. It is essential to maintain support for the efforts.

Whatever reason you choose for opposing Stansted's expansion, SSE and I agree tht BAA's grandiose plans will eventually founder on their economics. Provided that the Government does not countermand the Civil Aviation Authority's ruling that the three London airports must be financed on a stand-alone basis without cross-subsidy, it is hard to see a second runway going ahead. The low-cost carriers do not want to pay for it and, were cross-subsidy to be allowed, the airlines at Heathrow would probably sue. Note the trenchant views already expressed by the new Chief Executive of British Airways.

So now is not the time to falter - and certainly not the time to be seduced. I am as implacable as I have ever been in resisting BAA's blandishments.

1 December 2005


Public meeting on Monday 5th at 7.30 pm

Press Release - Uttlesford District Council - 28 November 2005

The majority of Uttlesford residents are 'concerned' about future developments at Stansted Airport, according to a comprehensive consultation undertaken on behalf of Uttlesford district council.

Uttlesford district council is revealing the results of the consultation at a public meeting at the council's Saffron Walden offices on 5 December at 7.30.

The investigation showed which issues are top of the list of people's concerns about increased use of the existing runway. Noise pollution, air pollution, road traffic congestion on both major and minor roads and impacts on natural habitats and wildlife are impacts about which people are most frequently "fairly concerned" or "very concerned".

Leader of the council, Cllr Mark Gayler, feels that the consultation shows how well the council has reflected the views of the district's residents,

"We will closely examine the findings of the consultation, put the community's concerns to BAA and ensure that they are addressed. We need to ensure these findings are taken into account in dealing with the airport's proposals for future expansion."

"Councillors have known for years that the people of Uttlesford have had doubts over the development of Stansted Airport.

"As a council we have always shown our concern at the possible negative impact on the environment, in particular noise and air pollution.

"This consultation proves that this same belief is held by the respondents and the possible impact on peoples' quality of life, and indeed their health.

"Even those in support of the expansion proposals also anticipate negative impacts on the environment as a result of any expansion."

In September 2005 Uttlesford District Council commissioned BMG Research to conduct a programme of qualitative and quantitative research. The aim of the research was to explore residents' attitudes and concerns towards the proposals. It is the Council's intention that the results will form the basis of Uttlesford community's independent response to the consultation BAA Stansted are carrying out on the Draft Interim Master Plan.

The overarching objective of the research is to enable Uttlesford district council to fully understand the concerns of local residents relating to the proposed increased use of existing facilities at Stansted Airport, and to draw out the perceived positive and negative impacts, both for them as residents and the wider community.

Between 21st September and 16th October 2005, 6 focus group discussions were convened and 1,208 interviews with residents were conducted across the district.

1 December 2005


Darling calls for radical overhaul of the planning system
to aid transport schemes

Michael Harrison, Business Editor - The Independent - 29 November 2005

A radical overhaul of the planning system designed to speed up the building of major transport projects is likely to be one of the key recommendations of the review being undertaken for the Government by Sir Rod Eddington, the former chief executive of British Airways, it emerged yesterday.

Addressing the CBI conference, the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, said it was "nonsense" that a scheme such as Heathrow's Terminal Five had taken as long as it had and planning would be one of the key issues studied in the Eddington review. Sir Rod, commissioned to carry out the study in April by Mr Darling and the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, is due to report back in the middle of next year. His remit is to assess the long-term transport needs of the economy over the next 25 years and the role an improved road, rail and air network could play in aiding productivity and growth.

Mr Darling said planning procedures needed to be overhauled so that "major strategic projects" such as T5 or the proposed North-South high-speed rail link did not become bogged down in endless delays and planning inquiries. "To spend years discussing the principle of these things when it can be done quickly is nonsense," he told delegates.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, also called for a streamlining of the planning process when deciding on major transport initiatives in the capital. Mr Livingstone's Transport for London (TfL) wants to be made the franchising authority for all commuter train lines into London and is pressing for permission to invest £7bn in the suburban rail network over the next 20 years.

He said that for this to happen there would need to be a shake-up of the planning regime because, as things stood, for virtually every single project undertaken TfL would need both the authority of a Transport Works Act and planning permission.

Mr Darling also gave a clear indication that he is determined to press ahead with a national road tolls scheme by announcing £7m in grants for local authorities in seven regions to draw up plans for road-pricing pilot studies. The areas range from Bristol and Bath and the West Midlands conurbation to Durham in the North-east and Manchester.

"One of the biggest threats to economic expansion we face in the next 10 to 15 years is congestion on the roads in our towns and cities," he told delegates. A White Paper published by Mr Darling last year suggested a national road pricing scheme could not be introduced until 2014 at the earliest but officials are now working flat out to speed up the timing.


Council to test-drive congestion charging

Cambridge News - 29 November 2005

IT'S official - Cambridge is to be one of the first areas outside London to look into the idea of congestion charging.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced yesterday (Monday, 28 November) that the city has been picked as one of seven local authority areas that will investigate what he calls "road pricing" - making motorists pay if they drive their cars on certain roads.

The Department for Transport will give the council a grant of £385,000 to mount a detailed study, which is expected to start soon and be finished by the summer of next year.

Cambridgeshire County Council, which will spearhead the study, says at this stage there are no firm proposals on how a charging scheme would work.

And lead councillor for highways and transport, Mac McGuire, told the News: "We have no plans to introduce a congestion charging scheme like the one in London. We are however interested in investigating one that, through rebates in other taxation, would cost the average motorist about the same as they are paying at present.

"This is an innovative approach, but until the study is completed we will not know whether or not it will work - or whether it will be appropriate for the Cambridge area."

The Newsrevealed last month the council had applied to be one of the areas to check out the potential of introducing charges, coupled with other trafficbusting measures like better public transport, highway improvements and better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

More than 30 local authorities around the UK bid to become study areas, and along with Cambridge six others have been chosen to examine how charging schemes might work in their area. The others are Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Tyne & Wear, Bristol, Durham and Shropshire.

Brian Smith, Cambridgeshire County Council's deputy chief executive, said: "The Cambridge area is facing big problems from traffic growth in future years, and we need to be planning now for how we deal with it. It's important to say however that although some form of demand management scheme will be needed, we simply don't know at this stage what it will be or how it will work."

One idea the council has floated publicly is compensating drivers who need to come into Cambridge in cars, and who will have to pay whatever charge is introduced. The idea is to give them some sort of discount - possibly a rebate on income tax, road tax or Council Tax.

The rebate would apply only to motorists who did a set average number of miles - those who were above the average would not qualify, thereby discouraging them from using their cars and encouraging them to use other modes of transport.

Mr Smith said the council will be working with other bodies - other councils, the Highways Agency, the East of England Development Agency, local businesses and so on - to canvass their views on what sort of scheme might work.

"Nothing is fixed - we want a wide debate and wide discussion on what we might do," he said.

If the study leads on to an actual project, it is likely to be several years before it starts, possibly not until 2011-2012.

The council has faced controversy over its plans for a guided bus scheme between Cambridge and Huntingdon, and over its introduction of rising bollards in Cambridge - so Shire Hall chiefs are well aware that congestion charging proposals will push them out once again into choppy water.

But Coun McGuire said: "Proper planning is the key to making sure Cambridge and the surrounding area continues to prosper and does not grind to a halt. Carrying out this Government- funded study does not commit us to introducing a congestion charging scheme. It is important that we look at all the options for the future."

Unveiling Cambridgeshire's role in piloting congestion charging, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said he hoped the move would lead to the creation of a scheme that would operate nationwide.

He said: "One of the biggest threats to economic expansion we face in the next 10-15 years is congestion on the roads in our towns and cities. Congestion is bad for business, frustrates motorists and hurts local economies."

"Continued investment is essential - and by 2007 transport spending after inflation will be 60 per cent higher than in 1997."

"But I'm convinced that without more radical measures, including more effective demand management, and actively managing traffic flows, road congestion will get worse."

"Local and regional pilots are essential if we are to explore and understand the possibilities of road pricing at national level."

"We are looking forward to working with these authorities to develop practical solutions to congestion problems, and support the development of a national road pricing scheme."

OUR COMMENT: As near neighbours Uttlesford residents will be able to sample the experience. Congestion charging may be necessary to deal with road congestion and the pollution that causes climate change. However, it should be accompanied by better public services and Cambridge has been a leader in park and ride schemes. BUT, why single out motorists? What about air travellers and their "subsidised" travel? Let's have congestion charges for use of our skies!

Pat Dale

1 December 2005


First skirmishes over post-2012 climate regime

Environment Daily 1993 - 30 November 2005

A possible post-2012 global climate change regime has been an instant focus of debate as the meeting of parties to the UN climate change convention and Kyoto protocol got underway in Montreal.

In a briefing on Tuesday, senior American official Harlan Watson said the US would be seeking "to focus attention on progress toward the shared objectives of the framework convention rather than to detour positive approaches toward a new round of negotiations based upon the Kyoto process".

"We need to pursue our international efforts in a spirit of collaboration, not coercion, and with a true sense of partnership," Mr Watson continued. "This is especially true in our relations with developing countries, which have an imperative to grow their economies and provide for the welfare of their citizens."

The head of the UK delegation, which is representing the EU, drew a different picture.

"We can't wait until 2012 to get the dialogue started," said Sarah Hendry. "We are approaching this with an open mind. All parties have something to put on the table. The process we launch shouldn't exclude anybody. We are looking for an open and inclusive process."

Among the more than 8,300 individuals registered for the talks are some 4,500 representatives of non-governmental organisations, virtually all strongly opposed to the US line. They are demonstrating outside the conference centre, and telling the nearly 700 journalists within it that the conference will only be a success if it produces a clear process for negotiating a multilateral regime of deeper greenhouse gas emission cuts.

The Conference chairman has begun informal consultations with all the major regional groups. Later he intends to meet with the individual delegations. "Now I am in a listening mode," he said. "My role is to listen to what different countries have to say and after to come with suggestions and possible solutions."


Environment Daily 1993 - 30 November 2005

The EU must exclude American airlines from plans to bring aviation into its carbon trading scheme, a US government agency said on Wednesday. The comments raise the possibility of a new transatlantic environment policy dispute. US federal aviation agency officials spoke in Brussels after lobbying the European commission to seek emission caps only for EU carriers.

In September the commission suggested introducing emission trading for all aircraft flying from an EU airport. It argued that this was the best environmental option and that it was "unlikely to have any significant adverse affects on the competitive position of EU airlines relative to non-EU airlines".

The proposal has prompted "serious and fundamental questions about the need and the legality of the scheme," said the agency's head of environment policy, Sharon Pinkerton. But it was "way too premature" to talk about legal challenges. "I'm hoping it's not going to come to that and I'm relatively optimistic we'll work something out," she said.

"We see aviation as a small contributor to climate change, and our industry isn't growing as fast as in the EU," Ms Pinkerton said. Non-American airlines are exempt from US environment-related taxes on aircraft fuel and tickets, she pointed out.

The agency wants the EU to wait until the international civil aviation organisation (Icao) has delivered recommendations on applying emission trading to aviation . An EU-carrier-only scheme could still be a pilot for a wider scheme later on, she said.

1 December 2005


Press Release - Takeley Parish Council - 29 November 2005


The drive for fair treatment for people whose homes have been blighted by the prospect of major airport expansion at Stansted will be given a welcome boost in Parliament this week.

The mounting political pressure to compel BAA to be forced by law to do the decent thing by the community and comprehensively address the issue of blight will be focused on an amendment to be tabled on the Civil Aviation Bill which enters Grand Committee stage in the House of Lords on Monday (5 December). The amendment is designed to ensure that all homeowners affected by generalised blight would be left no worse off than if airport expansion plans had never been announced.

The news comes as the community, led by Takeley Parish Council and its Chairman Trevor Allen, gears up to appear in the High Court to renew the claim for Judicial Review of BAA's Home Owner Support Scheme. Takeley's legal challenge is backed by villages including Broxted, Duton Hill, Great and Little Easton, Great and Little Hallingbury, Hatfield Broad Oak and Tilty which are all severely blighted by BAA's plans. The request for the claim to be allowed to proceed will be considered at a Permission Hearing scheduled for 13 December at the Royal Courts of Justice.

At it stands, the Air Transport White Paper calls on the airport operator to put in place a voluntary rather than a statutory scheme to address the problem resulting from its runway proposal. However, BAA has produced a woefully inadequate response applicable to just 500 homes in the immediate vicinity of the airport. Even then, those few who qualify are required to bear the first 15% of any property devaluation themselves and to meet their own relocation costs. A more realistic estimate of the number of homes affected is 12,000, largely across the southern half of Uttlesford according to analysis of Land Registry statistics which also reveal that the overall impact upon home values in the District has been around £600 million.

The objective of Takeley legal action is to force BAA to replace the existing HOSS with a scheme which properly fulfils the requirements of the White Paper by offering protection to all those affected by generalised blight and not merely a select few whose homes are sited within an arbitrarily applied noise contour with no reference to the reality of the suffering being encountered.

The arguments to be presented by the barristers acting for the parish council will focus on the failure of the Government to act in accordance with its obligations under the Arhuus Convention by endorsing the HOSS when it clearly fails to address the full extent of generalised blight (as required by the White Paper) which expansion proposals have caused. It is incompatible with the Secretary of State's duty for him to support the construction of a new runway while endorsing or validating a scheme which fails to provide adequate protection to those affected, say the claimants.

Takeley Parish Council is also seeking a Protective Costs Order to limit the community's exposure to the costs being sought by BAA which have already been ruled by the Court as "disproportionate" and "grossly excessive" and to limit future costs in the event of permission being granted for Judicial Review to enable the Parish Council and its partners to budget in advance for a fixed exposure to costs.

Commenting on BAA's attempts to evade its duty to the community and the lack of political will on the part of the Government to safeguard the position of those affected by expansion plans, Takeley Parish Council Chairman Trevor Allen said: "The dragnet is tightening on BAA as its mean-spirited approach towards the community is revealed. Its attempt to shirk its responsibilities to ordinary families by trying to pull off an airport expansion programme on the cheap further undermines BAA's reputation and expose its blatant disregard for the community in which it operates."

Regarding BAA's efforts to outprice the community from the legal system by claiming excessively high costs, Trevor Allen added: "BAA's attempts to kill off this claim by putting it beyond the financial reach of the community are nothing more than scandalous and expose the hypocrisy of its claims to the outside world about corporate responsibility."

29 November 2005


Airport gains green status

Saffron Walden Weekly News - 24 November 2005

Stansted has become only the second airport in Britain to gain special internationally recognised status for its environmental management. A certificate was granted after a 14 month assessment programme.

Auditors independently assessed the airport to ensure its environmental impacts were being reduced and that it was managing its environmental risks.

But the news does not appease Stop Stansted Expansion, which is continuing its campaign. The pressure group claims an environment report is more spin than hard facts.

Leigh Lloyd, director of operations for the auditors, said: "Only through sheer dedication and team commitment can this status be achieved. We were highly impressed with the efforts presented to us by the Stansted team, which truly demonstrates the priority the airport places on its environmental responsibilities."

Stansted managing director, Terry Morgan said: "Improvements to our waste and water management have focussed on monitoring and compliance with legislation, oil and storage facilities have been greatly enhanced and environmental criteria have been incorporated into all audits and inspections."

"Stansted is an international business that is set within a vibrant local community and an attractive rural location. We carry nearly 22 million passengers a year and are keenly aware of our continuing environmental and social responsibilities. As we go forward we are determined to achieve sustainable growth and receipt of this certification is yet more proof of how seriously we take our environmental responsibilities."

Brian Ross, economics adviser to airport pressure group Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "BAA gets 10 out of 10 for spin but nought out of 10 for trust, transparency and truthfulness. This report is 7 months late and has been revamped to give us glossy pictures instead of hard facts. However even BAA spin cannot hide the fact that Stansted generates more noise and pollution than ever before. As matters stand, further expansion is unthinkable."

OUR COMMENT: Green here means "managing environmental risks". All commercial undertakings are supposed, by law, to manage their environmental risks. Some are better than others. Who awards this unusual certificate that takes 14 months to judge? Stansted had the best possible take off as a new airport in the middle of unspoilt countryside. If Terry Morgan and his team are so keenly aware of their environmental and social responsibilities, then they cannot possibly contemplate enlarging the airport further, and destroying all that hard work they have been putting in to preserve the local environment from the attacks of pollution and noise that aircraft unfortunately discharge over the "vibrant local community". There is no possibility that Stansted can expand sustainably. The idea makes a mockery of the whole concept of sustainability.

Pat Dale

29 November 2005


Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: Environmental Exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Reduces Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) - Susceptible Patients

Published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation (EJCPR) - PRNewswire - 28 November 2005

NO2 can disturb cardiac autonomic function in coronary heart disease (CHD)-susceptible patients reports a recent European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EJCPR) article published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; Association between nitrogen dioxide and heart rate variability in susceptible population.

The linkage between exposure to particulate air pollution and increased cardiovascular symptoms and mortality has been shown in epidemiological studies previously, yet relatively little is known about the effect of gaseous pollutants on cardiovascular diseases.

"This is the first study to demonstrate that environmental exposure to NO2 is associated with reducing HRV in human subjects," says Chang-Chuan Chan, Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

The interaction between particulate matter (PM) and NO2 is an important factor for consideration in understanding air pollution effects on HRV. Further research is needed to understand the biological mechanisms involved and the actual dose-response relationship.

OUR COMMENT: Nitrogen oxides are emitted by all fossil fuel engines but especially by aircraft.

Pat Dale


Loud life may lead to a weak heart: study

Sheryl Ubelacker - Canadian Press - 23 November 2005

Toronto - Sustained exposure to the roar of traffic, the non-stop cacophony of office machinery or the thunder of industrial machinery is not only a threat to hearing, it may also spark a heart attack in people predisposed to cardiovascular disease, a study suggests.

In the study of about 2,000 people in hospital for a heart attack and an equal number hospitalized for other reasons, researchers at the Charite University Medical Centre in Berlin found that heart attack victims had experienced a far greater "noise burden" at work or home than those in the comparison group.

"We feel that if you have a higher and longer exposure to noise, either environmental or workplace noise, you are at a higher risk for a heart attack," lead investigator Dr. Stefan Willich said Wednesday from Berlin.

The study, which involved interviews with patients at 32 Berlin hospitals and measurements of ambient sound in neighbourhoods throughout the city, found that men and women did not react in the same way to noise. "There was a marked difference," said Dr. Willich, director of the centre's Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics.

With environmental noise - such as heavy traffic, machinery like lawn mowers, yelling kids and barking dogs - the study showed that men with sustained exposure had a 50 per cent higher risk of heart attack, while women had a risk three times higher than their counterparts not regularly blasted by loud sound.

But when it came to workplace noise, men's risk for heart attack went up by nearly one-third, while women didn't seem affected at all, the study showed.

Dr. Willich said researchers aren't sure why men and women react differently to noise, but he theorizes that it may be based on long-ingrained evolutionary roles, making men more sensitive to workplace sounds and women to those involving the home environment, such as a child's cry.

"However, I believe there may also be additional biologic differences," he said. Studies have shown that risk factor profiles for heart disease differ somewhat for men and women, as do the sexes' responses to treatments.

What is the same, however, is the mechanism that sets off a heart attack in both men and women - stress. But it is not the stress that arises from annoyance at unwanted sound, Dr. Willich hypothesized.

"We looked at annoyance, which is a subjective thing, and objective sound," he said. "We looked at both issues. And objective sound level was more important than subjective annoyance."

In other words, a neighbour playing the piano loudly may severely irritate one person while another "may love it," he said. But both will be affected because loud sound causes stress hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine to rise, which in turn push up blood pressure and alter cholesterol and other fat levels in the blood.

And in some people, that may lead to a heart attack, concluded the study, published in Thursday's issue of the European Heart Journal. "It means it's not necessarily how you perceive it in that moment," said Willich. "Long-term loudness, long-term sound exposure may also put you at risk, even though you may feel that you adjust to it."

Dr. Willich's institute is calling for the threshold of sound at which ear protection is mandatory in Germany be lowered from 85 decibels to 70 or 80 decibels, although even those lower levels boosted the risk of heart attack among some study subjects.

In Canada, it is recommended that ear protection be used during exposure to sound above 85 decibels (the level of a diesel truck going 50 km/h, 20 metres away, for instance).

Two recent Health Canada surveys found eight per cent of Canadians were highly annoyed by noise outside their homes, with sound from traffic and other people and animals ranked as the most irritating. Aircraft, trains, construction equipment and power landscaping tools were also identified as irritants by respondents.

A leaf blower, rock concert and chainsaw all hit the 115-decibel level, while an ambulance siren and jackhammer can bash the ear drums at 125 decibels and send stress levels soaring, says the organization Dangerous Decibels.

"If you know you have an increased risk of heart attacks, if you already have heart disease or you have risk factors - a family history, you're a smoker and you have high blood pressure and so on -then it's good to also have a look at your noise burden," said Dr. Willich. "And if you have a chance to reduce that, you'd better do it."

OUR COMMENT: Noise under the flight path of an aircraft taking off or landing might be well over 70 decibels depending on how near you are to the airport. Levels of over 85 can be recorded in villages near the boundary.

Pat Dale

29 November 2005


World climate change talks to open in Montreal

Environment Daily 1990 - 25 November 2005

Post-2012 policies and strengthening the Kyoto protocol's clean development mechanism will top the agenda when world governments gather for climate change talks in Canada, from Monday. Up to 10,000 participants are expected at the Montreal meeting, which reaches its climax in a ministerial segment on 8-9 December.

The historic 11th meeting of parties to the 1992 UN convention on climate change will also serve as the first meeting of parties to the convention's Kyoto protocol. The protocol entered force this February, along with limits it imposes on industrialised countries' greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-12.

* With the existing Kyoto emission limits due to expire in just eight years, the meeting's focus on a POST-2012 POLICY FRAMEWORK is attracting huge interest. Yet all sides acknowledge that the outcome will be no more than the start of a process. Despite intensive negotiations, notably through the G8 this year, neither the USA nor major developing countries have signalled a willingness to take on binding commitments. Even if a breakthrough occurred, these countries would be unlikely to accept straightforward emission caps of the kind in the current protocol.

* Of more immediate importance, the meeting should agree to REFORM THE CDM to make it work better and to increase the number of approved emission reduction projects approved. The scheme's success is seen as a vital support for the EU emission trading scheme and by developing countries as a technology transfer mechanism. Key debates will concern the workings of the CDM executive board and thorny operating principles like additionality - the rule that projects should generate emission reductions that would not otherwise occur.

* Parties to the convention will formally adopt the MARRAKECH ACCORDS, agreed in 199X, which will give a full legal basis to the Kyoto protocol's international emission trading system and its project-based instruments, the CDM and joint implementation (JI). Adoption will also formalise the protocol's compliance mechanism.

* Parties are also scheduled to launch a five-year work programme on ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE.

* A key theme cutting across all these procedural issues will be TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSFER. Non-Kyoto party the USA is pushing for a future framework based largely on technology agreements. Even countries in favour of binding emission targets recognise the central role of technological change in achieving them.


CO2 'highest for 650,000 years'

BBC News - 24 November 2005

Current levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are higher now than at any time in the last 650,000 years.

That is the conclusion of new European studies looking at ice taken from 3km below the surface of Antarctica. The scientists say their research shows present day warming to be exceptional.

Other research, also published in the journal Science, suggests that sea levels may be rising twice as fast now as in previous centuries.

29 November 2005


Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - Financial Times - 25 November 2005

Greenhouse gas emissions trading should remain central to tackling climate change, the International Energy Agency said yesterday. Claude Mandil, executive director of the IEA, delivered a strong defence of the central mechanism underpinning the Kyoto treaty on climate change, the future of which will be discussed by United Nations members at a two-week meeting beginning on Monday in Canada.

Launching an IEA report into emissions trading, he said: "We believe that emissions trading will remain at the core of any future international agreement to combat climate change. Emissions trading allows reducing emissions at least cost."

The provisions of the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which requires developed countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, expire in 2012.

One of the important questions for next week's meeting will be what should replace the treaty, which is vehemently opposed by the US.

The most conspicuous example of emissions trading to date is the European Union's mandatory greenhouse gas trading scheme, which limits the amount of carbon dioxide that certain energy-intensive industries are allowed to produce and allows companies to trade their allowances with one another.

In this way, companies that reduce their emissions, for instance through more efficient use of energy or investment in new technology, can benefit by selling their permits to laggards. Allowances to emit carbon dioxide were trading for just under €20 ($23.6, £14) a tonne yesterday, according to Point Carbon, an analyst company.

The report from the IEA identified transport as a key area of concern, responsible for about a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions.

The authors suggested that car manufacturers, rather than drivers, could be made responsible for the carbon dioxide emissions of their vehicles. As well as appealing to drivers, and removing any threat of penalty to poorer transport users, such an approach would result in faster improvements to vehicles: "This would foster quicker technical improvements in new cars, yet fuel use by these cars... would not carry an additional cost."

However, the report was critical of some aspects of current emissions trading and pointed out that other measures - such as targets linked to economic growth and limits on the production of carbon dioxide by certain business sectors - would also be necessary in order to bring down the world's greenhouse gas emissions, which are expected to increase by about 50 per cent by 2030 if current energy policies continue.

Under the Kyoto protocol as it stands, developing countries are not obliged to commit themselves to targets to reduce their emissions. The report suggested that developing countries should be given non-binding emissions targets that would allow them to sell allowances on international greenhouse gas markets if their emissions were lower than an agreed level, without forcing them to buy emissions if they rose above that level.

29 November 2005


Customers with a conscience lift cost of ethical shopping to £3.4bn

Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent - The Independent - 28 November 2005

Shoppers in Britain are changing their spending habits to take account of climate change, research published today shows.

Consumers spent £3.4bn last year on goods and services with a low impact on global warming - an annual increase of 21 per cent, says the Co-operative Bank. Sales of household appliances such as fridges and washing machines rated "A" for energy efficiency rose 23 per cent year-on-year, while one in 10 people went on public transport purely to help the environment.

Spending on ecologically friendly solar panels and domestic micro wind turbines in homes leapt 314 per cent to £23m. Seven per cent more motorists boycotted petrol retailers because of their attempts to play down the links between carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. According to the bank's annual Ethical Consumerism Report, 66 per cent of consumers now consider the environmental impact of their purchases, a rise of 11 percentage points.

The report, which acts as a barometer of ethical spending in the UK, will be published in full next month.

Simon Williams, of Co-operative Financial Services, believes the figures demonstrate the public is "increasingly willing" to tackle climate change. He said: "On average, some £140 per household is now voluntarily spent on reducing climate change.

"It would seem to support a bolder legislative agenda one that ensures the UK hits its target of a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2010 and then goes on to produce 80 per cent reductions by 2050. Why not restrict the sale of household appliances with energy efficiency ratings of "C" and below, much as is now required for boilers?"

Domestic power consumption contributes to global warming because pollution emitted by power stations. In Britain, electricity consumption for lights and appliances has almost doubled since 1970 as rising affluence means more homes have fridges, washing machines and dishwashers. The rise in entertainment gadgets such as DVD players and games consoles has also had an impact.

All domestic appliances have to carry the EU energy label rating them from A+, the most efficient, to G, the least efficient. Fridges can be rated A++.

Energy efficient products can use 40 per cent less energy than older products, saving money at a time of rising electricity prices, as well as helping the environment.

Any boiler installed in a British home after 1 April this year must be A or B energy rated - a measure the Energy Savings Trust estimates will save 1.3 million tons of CO2 being emitted a year.

29 November 2005


Prepare for fares lift-off

Travel Times Online - 19 November 2005

AIR FARES should more than double on some routes - with transatlantic prices leaping by at least £400 - to take account of the "true" environmental cost of flights, according to groups opposing aviation expansion.

Environmentalists estimate that a "congestion charge of the sky" could be set at 3.6p per kilometre, based on damage caused by aeroplane emissions, noise pollution and gasses released by vehicles taking passengers to and from airports. This would add £402 to a return flight from London to New York and £106 to a round trip to Alicante in Spain. Charges for Beijing would rise by £588; St Lucia, £490; Nairobi, £494; Lima, £733; and Marrakesh, £165.

Anti-aviation groups say that flying is more damaging to the environment than almost any other activity. They believe the Government should introduce aviation taxes to reduce demand for flights, and join international carbon-trading emissions schemes. Jeff Gazzard, co-ordinator of the Greenskies Alliance, said: "Asking people to pay 3.6p a kilometre is not 'anti-flying'. But if we are serious about climate change, then we should be paying it."

Friends of the Earth (FoE) wants the Government to increase air passenger duty to reduce demand for flights. It is also calling for aviation to join a European Union carbon-trading scheme - in which airlines pay for "carbon credits" bought from more efficient economic sectors - by 2008. Government officials have recently indicated that such a scheme could be on the agenda at a meeting of the Environmental session of the European Council on December 1.

Richard Dyer, FoE aviation campaigner, believes that current growth - air travel is expected to triple by 2030 - will make it impossible for the Government to meet its target of a 60 per cent carbon dioxide reduction by 2050.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Aviation Economics Group, which campaigns against the expansion of aviation, says the best way to achieve the target would be a fuel tax and VAT on flights."

Sewill and Gazzard say that carbon-offset schemes such as Climate Care - which runs projects to restore rainforests and provide renewable fuel sources - do not go far enough. But Tom Morton, managing director of Climate Care, which charges 0.1p per kilometre, said: "We never said we were offering the answer to all aviation's ills." He added that airlines need to improve their fuel efficiency, and that the Government should introduce its own industry-wide carbon-trading scheme.

Meanwhile, Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, is adamant that nothing needs to change. He recently said that he regards it as his job to "annoy the * * * *ers" who campaign for a carbon tax on aviation fuel.

29 November 2005


Warning to airlines over prices on website

David Millward, Transport Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 28 November 2005

Trading standards officers across the country are prepared to investigate airlines over their practice of refusing to include taxes, fees and charges in the prices they quote on their websites.

Action will be triggered as soon as any local authority receives a complaint from a consumer who complains of having been misled by a carrier.

"We believe the courts should intervene to clarify the law once and for all," said Bruce Treloar, the trading standards institute lead officer for the travel industry.

Earlier this year Ryanair was taken to court over the way in which it quoted fares on its website. The carrier was cleared when it made clear on the first page that the price was exclusive of additional fees and taxes. But it was fined £24,000 because some of its web pages did not warn that the ticket price was subject to extra levies.

"If we received further complaints of a similar nature about any airline, it would not prevent us from going back to court again," said Mr Treloar.

Trading standards officers are backed by the Air Transport Users Council, the passengers watchdog, which found that passengers were confused by the way in which fares were quoted. According to a survey of more than 2,000 people it conducted, only 43 per cent of travellers who booked online were aware that the extras charged varied from carrier to carrier.

20 November 2005


"Support runway or cash for community will stop"

Herts & Essex Observer - 17 November 2005

BAA's Chief Executive sparked outrage this week after suggesting community investment from Stansted would dry up unless local authorities supported the second runway proposal.

Mike Clasper told members of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London: "In a situation in which Councils take the confrontational route through the planning process, they should not expect us to open our cheque books voluntarily, beyond the conditions which would br imposed on us following a public inquiry. It may sound tough, but they can't have it both ways."

Stop Stansted Expansion's campaign director, Carol Barbone, said she had been "shocked" by the statement. "What he is saying is, basically, 'If we have to go down the public inquiry route, we will do the absolute minimum in terms of our social obligations.'  BAA is trying to trwist the arms of councils by threatening them. In effect, it is disenfranchising local people still further."

MP for Saffron Walden, Sir Alan Haselhurst, whose constituency covers the airport, slammed Mr Clasper's comments on Thursday as "intimidation, pure and simple".

He added: "The supposed benefits which he seeks to trade for a quiet deal on planning approval don't add up to what we really need, which is first class improvements to road and rail."

Mark Gaylor, leader of Uttlesford District Council, said it "made no apologies" for defending the community's interests. He added airport expansion would be "subject to the full rigour of the planning process" and reiterated the Council's opposition to a second runway.

On Monday Mr Clasper caused further controversy when he said an access charge of £5 to enter Stansted Airport was under "serious consideration". The next day a BAA spokesman said there were no such plans, but added that they were well advanced for Heathrow, under a project being undertaken with the DfT. He could not rule out the possibility of their extension to Stansted if the Heathrow scheme were successful.

SSE accused the company of trying to hijack an existing Essex County Council drive to improve public transport links to Stansted. The Council has applied for almost £3m from the DfT's Transport Innovation Fund to investigate the feasibility of, among other things, road charging around Stansted in partnership with BAA. The proceeds would be redirected into improving nearby transport infrastructure.

However, Mrs Barbone worried the company would simply pocket the proceeds. "Such a scheme must be part of a traffic management plan for the benefit of the community, not to profit BAA."

20 November 2005


District Council in a 'unique' position

Herts & Essex Observer - 17 November 2005

A mixture of articles and letters to the editor has recently suggested that Uttlesford District Council has been reluctant to oppose the building of a second runway at Stansted Airport.

The council is in a unique position in that it must promote the needs of the community, but also has a legal obligation tp operate as an impartial controller of development in the district. The council continues to maintain its position that growth in air travel is incompatable with the Government's carbon emissions reduction obligations.

The council will continue to press the Government to change its policies on air travel so that there is a coherent climate change policy across al government departments consistent with the Energy White Paper. It maintains its opposition to the principle of a second runway at Stansted.

It expects that, as a major infrastructure project, the planning application for a second runway and associated facilities anticipated in 2007, and the road and rail access proposals, will be decided by the Government following a public inquiry. However, the council expects that the planning application for increased use of the existing runway anticipated in spring 2006 will be decided by the council, as normally happens with planning applications.

The increased use proposals are not expected to be viewed by the Deputy Prime Minister as falling into the exceptional category of applications that are determined by him following a public inquiry. It is, therefore, our view that the interests of Uttlesford community would be best served by councillors and officers doing their utmost to ensure that this decision is taken locally.

Unfortunately that view places significant constraints on the council's ability to speak publicly on the issue of the expanded use of the existing runway. The council has issued formal advice to BAA Stansted as to the information and studies it would like to see to accompany the application for increased use of the existing runway. It has also reiterated the importance of this advice in responding to BAA's pre-application document. For example, it has said that further work on assessing and explaining the air noise effects is essential.

Uttlesford District Council is keenly aware that some local residents have strongly held views about any further development of the airport beyond the limits imposed by the council in deciding to grant planning permission for additional facilities in 2003. It therefore commissioned a market research company to carry out a questionnaire survey of a large sample of Uttlesford residents.

The questionnaire was designed following in depth discussions with half a dozen focus groups held in different parts of the district, both those most affected by the effects of the airport and those less affected. The subsequent responses are currently being analysed and the council will have the findings by the end of the month. Uttlesford District Council will use this information in its negotiations with BAA prior to determining its proposals.

The council and its four partner Stansted area local authorities have commissioned advice from consultants on air travel issues, air noise and road and rail access matters. They have been asked to advise on the outcomes to which BAA could reasonably be asked to commit before the application could be determined.

Alistair Bovaird, Chief Executive, Uttlesford District Council

20 November 2005


PM re-iterates climate change determination

No.10 Website - 16 November 2005

Tony Blair has said he remains keen to see 'binding agreements' put in place to deal with the problems the world faces from climate change.

Speaking to MPs today during PMQs, he refuted suggestions that his 'resolve was weakening' on the issue, but said that any framework on emission targets needed to be agreed by everyone.

In particular, he said, the US, China and India - as the world's largest and fastest-growing economies - had to sign up to make any such treaty worthwhile.

Earlier this month, at an international conference on climate change in London, the PM said the world needed to deal with the challenge of global warming 'on a sustainable basis'.

Mr Blair pointed out that the evidence of climate change was getting stronger and even those who doubted it accepted there were concerns over energy security and supply.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the Kyoto protocol had been important, but added that the world needed to combine the need for growth with 'a proper and responsible attitude' towards the environment.

Climate change has been one of the main priority areas during the UK's G8 Presidency year.


Tony Blair: 'We must do more to beat climate change'
'We will cut our emissions by 2012 by almost twice the targets set by Kyoto'

The Independent - 19 November 2005

The challenges of global integration need to be met with stronger, more effective global, multilateral action. No single country is able to tackle climate change. All major countries need to act, if we are to tackle it effectively. So if some countries stand back, it won't work and others will question why they should act. This is why I have placed so much emphasis this year on trying to rebuild an international consensus on climate change. In other words, we need to think globally as well as act locally. We are doing both.

We are acting to cut carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. We will cut our emissions by 2012 by almost twice our Kyoto targets. And we have set an ambitious long-term target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

But it is true that currently we can only be sure that we will achieve about two-thirds of our planned reductions in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010. Carbon emissions have gone up about 3 per cent since 1997. But emissions would have gone up by 8 per cent if it were not for the actions we have taken under our climate change programme. But that is no excuse. So the Government is conducting reviews both of our climate change programme and of our energy policy. We are determined to do all we can to meet our 2010 target. We will need a national effort to meet this goal. The Government must and will lead the way but we cannot achieve it alone. We need businesses and everybody, as consumers and passengers and drivers, to help achieve it too.

Greenpeace have argued that we should use less coal. But it is just unrealistic to expect countries with growing energy needs and huge supplies not to use it. The challenge we must face is to make coal clean. And the UK is leading the way in doing so, by working with the EU to develop demonstration power stations in China for carbon capture and storage.

Greenpeace have claimed that I have instructed airports to expand despite aviation being a major contributor to climate change. Nonsense. Airport companies want to expand to meet the increasing demand from people to travel. As I said on Monday, globalisation is a result of the choices of individuals. Our responsibility is to try to reduce the downsides from this growth in aviation. Aviation emissions are growing. We believe that emissions trading is the best way to reduce them. It sets an absolute cap on emissions and encourages innovation.

Greenpeace have also said that we have failed to halt the growth in greenhouse gas emissions from traffic. Whereas in fact, as part of our climate change programme, we have just announced the renewable transport fuels obligation, which will mean that 5 per cent of petrol and diesel will be made from bio-fuels. This will cut a million tons of carbon per annum from road transport emissions by 2010. This is the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road every year. So we are acting locally but we also need to think globally. Even if the UK achieves every emissions target we set ourselves, we will have tackled a mere 2 per cent of the problem. That is why international action and consensus is so important.

The Kyoto protocol entered into force this year. Kyoto shows how an international system of capping emissions, with a trading market to help meet the caps cost-effectively, can drive substantial emissions reductions. Under Kyoto, 15 of the EU countries including the UK will deliver a 16 per cent reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 compared with business as usual.

I could talk about nothing but the Kyoto protocol. That way, maybe people would believe that I am still committed to it. Which I am. But as I have been saying since 2001, Kyoto is only a first step. Even if all countries, including the US, signed up and met their 2012 targets, this would only stabilise emissions - not cut them, which we need to.

So, we need an international framework and emissions targets which take us beyond Kyoto's 2012 commitments. That is the "green" thing to do. Some people have said that I have undermined the idea of post-2012 targets by saying that countries would not agree to them if they meant choking off economic growth. On the contrary, I am showing the path we need to follow if we are going to agree internationally binding targets which all can sign up to. Because countries like the United States (which represents 25 per cent of all emissions), India and China (which is building a new power station every week) will only sign up to those targets if they feel they can be met without slowing down their development - development which is needed to lift two billion people out of desperate poverty.

And what we also need, if we are going to meet those targets as well as increase prosperity, is new technologies and cleaner energy. Too much of the debate over climate change has become polarised between those who advocate compulsory targets and those who advocate technology. For me this is a false choice. The technology is the means by which we will achieve those targets.

We have made real progress this year, taking the opportunity of our EU and G8 presidencies to build an international consensus both on the need for a new international framework after Kyoto, and on the technology we need to reduce emissions. At the Gleneagles summit in July, leaders from the G8 countries plus China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico, acknowledged that climate change was a serious and long-term challenge and that we have to act with resolve and urgency now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On 9 July, The Independent's own Michael McCarthy called it "the most important step to counter climate change since the signing of the Kyoto protocol in December 1997".

The post-Gleneagles climate change dialogue we have established has helped to lay a constructive foundation for the Montreal UN climate change conference next month, by bringing together countries who had serious disagreements when they met in Buenos Aires one year ago. Montreal will begin the formal discussion on how we can work together beyond 2012. We have also made practical international progress in putting into use both new and existing technologies which will reduce emissions. The G8 agreed a plan of action to ensure that those technologies are brought out of the lab and put to use as soon as possible. The US has announced around $1bn in incentives for alternative fuel vehicles over the next 10 years.

Canada, Italy, France and the UK all now have policies in place to improve the energy efficiency of public buildings. And the EU has agreed to develop a near-zero emissions coal power station in China.

So the new consensus we have built this year is making a difference. I am sure that it will also make a difference at the crucial meeting in Montreal which starts in 10 days, where we must start to shape an inclusive global solution to climate change after 2012.


The Independent - 19 November 2005

Robert Napier, chief executive, WWF-UK
Tony Blair told the world a year ago he was going to make climate change a priority of his EU presidency. He also pledged political agreement to protect people and the environment from harmful man-made chemicals. One year on, Mr Blair's actions in government have failed to match his rhetoric. His recent language appears to have undermined the Kyoto Protocol and on emissions trading Mr Blair intervened to increase the amount industry can pollute. On the EU chemicals legislation, "REACH", Tony Blair has failed to stand up to the German and American governments.

Stephen Tindale, director, Greenpeace
Tony Blair has achieved virtually nothing on the environment. Under the Tories, carbon emissions were falling. The UK's environmental policy is being dictated by the CBI, the AA and British Airways. Much of the blame can be laid at the Prime Minister's door. David Cameron has made clear that he sees climate change as one of the "new issues" that his party needs to address. In the 19th century, under Benjamin Disraeli, it was the Tories who flew the flag for environmental protection, against the unbridled commercialism of Gladstone's Liberals. Perhaps a similar pattern will emerge.

Tony Juniper, director, Friends of the Earth
When it comes to taking action, our leaders have shown a disastrous abdication of duty. Under Tony Blair's government emissions are rising. His trade policies also lack any environmental component and risk destroying natural resources which the poorest depend upon.

OUR COMMENT: Tony Blair appears to deny the policies put forward in the Aviation White Paper. Yet we are constantly being told that a Government White Paper is now regarded as practically a Government Edict - even though it has not been submitted to Parliament. If, as he now says, he has not instructed airports to expand, then surely the Aviation White Paper, which is Government Policy, is not "instructing" them to expand either. It is expressing a wish of airlines to expand that the Government is presumably just supporting. Clarification would be helpful especially as the whole issue of "Can the Aviation White Paper be questioned" is a talking point at the current Eastern Region Draft Plan Inquiry. It would seem rather odd if the Government were insisting on airport expansion yet at the same time the Prime Minister says he wants to lower aircraft emissions through the proposed inclusion of aviation in the EU carbon emissions trading scheme.

Pat Dale


BBC News - 17 November 2005

Worldwide interest in the threat from greenhouse gases has undergone a "massive change", the government's chief scientific adviser has said.

Sir David King told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee he had noticed a "culture change" in attitudes to pollution in the last two years. But this had to be translated into a greater international effort. Sir David warned of rising sea levels and melting ice caps if global warming was allowed to worsen.

Economic concerns

He told MPs no government in the world would switch off its power stations to maintain carbon dioxide levels below 400 parts per million, if this seemed to threaten the country's economy.

He said that globally, if carbon dioxide was to be kept below 550 parts per million, there would need to be a reduction of CO2 by 2050 of between 60% and 65%. But this would mean getting a worldwide agreement to cutbacks in fossil fuel, which was "unrealistic".

Sir David said: "We are not anticipating that Africa and India will reduce their emissions, let alone reduce them by that amount over that period of time."

"If we could maintain China, India, and Brazil to a relatively low growth in emissions, we'd be doing rather well."

However, environmentalists had "managed to achieve something of a culture change. I'm not saying that we're all the way there. But certainly when I went out to Australia a few weeks ago, there was an enormous amount of interest in climate change. It got a lot of media attention. So climate change is very much up there and people are considering it."

20 November 2005


New timetable 'downgrades commuter service'

Pam Jenner, Saffron Walden Weekly News - 17 November 2005

A LEADING councillor has accused a train operator of downgrading its London commuter service with its new rail timetable.

Coun Alan Dean, Uttlesford District Council member for Stansted south, was speaking out ahead of changes to One's timetable next month. One operates trains between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport, Stansted Mountfitchet and Cambridge.

He said: "From December commuters to London from Stansted Mountfitchet and other local stations will be treated like off-peak travellers to a slower service for the first time in the history of the local railway. One railway should slash their fares accordingly."

Coun Dean says as well as "degrading" the London commuter service, services to the airport from the village are also being slashed.

He said: "Currently there are six trains between 5.30- 8.30am, the first at 5.43am. From December there will be only two trains in that period and the first will not be until 6.37am which is too late to catch the 7am period of flights. Moreover, airport workers will be unable to get to work by train."

A spokeswoman for One said: "We have tried to arrange the timetable to provide at least an hourly service from Stansted Mountfitchet to the airport; an hourly service to Cambridge and an hourly service to London with additional services in the peaks."

"Although we recognise the level of service may prove disappointing to some passengers, there was a programme of consultation with passenger representation groups and local authorities earlier this year."

"The feedback has been helpful in making some changes to the overall timetable and we will continue to review it moving forward. All feedback is welcomed."

20 November 2005


Climate change will hit least polluting countries hardest

Ian Sample, Science Correspondent - The Guardian - 17 November 2005

The world's poorest countries face a dramatic rise in deaths from disease and malnutrition as a direct result of climate change driven by wealthier, more polluting countries, scientists say today.

The researchers reached the conclusion after constructing a map showing how climate change will affect different regions of the world by making infectious diseases more rampant and damaging local agriculture.

The picture that emerges shows the least wealthy countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions as the most vulnerable. They can expect a doubling of deaths from malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition by 2030 as a result of climate change.


Rising temperatures 'killing off' fish

De Havilland Information Services - 18 November 2005

The world's fish populations are under threat, as global warming causes temperatures to rise in rivers, lakes and seas, a new report claims. Conservation charity WWF warns that climate change is resulting in food shortages, falling birth rates and less oxygen for marine and freshwater fish.

The report, Are We Putting our Fish in Hot Water?', reveals that the world's waters are warming and hotter temperatures are likely to stunt the growth of some fish and speed up their metabolisms.

"As climate change increases the pressure on fish populations that are already strained to the limit by over fishing in the marine environment, we must act urgently to reduce both carbon dioxide emissions and fishing pressures to protect fish populations as they are one of the world's most valuable biological, nutritional and economic assets," Andrew Lee, director of campaigns for WWF-UK, said.

WWF suggests that rising water temperatures could cause mass migrations of fish to cooler waters, affecting seabird populations in some areas. This year has seen the worst breeding figures ever for some UK seabirds.

The lobby group is urging the government to set legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to protect the UK's fish stocks.

World leaders are increasingly turning their attention to the issue of climate change and the parties to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change are due to meet in Montreal in two weeks' time. A host of measures are being introduced to combat global warming, including the promotion of greener cars and renewable energy sources.

However, with developing countries, such as China and India, becoming rapidly industrialised, global energy demands are continuing to rise. Climate change is altering rainfall patterns, currents and sea levels across the globe.

The world fisheries sector generates more than £70 billion each year and employs at least 200 million people. The amount of oxygen dissolved in water decreases as temperatures rise and scientists are concerned that fish might struggle to breathe if water temperatures continue to increase.

An article this week in the journal Nature predicted that climate change could trigger a sharp increase in epidemics, floods and droughts. Rising temperatures could cause an increase in infectious disease and respiratory illnesses and reduce supplies of clean drinking water, according to the scientists.


North's greenhouse gas output rising rapidly

Environment Daily 1985 - 18 November 2005

Developed countries' greenhouse gas emissions fell 6% between 1990 and 2003 but are set to rebound to 10% above 1990 levels over the next five years, according to the most comprehensive survey yet. The report was published on Thursday by the UN's framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC).

The figures are based on projections by the 40 developed countries with detailed reporting obligations under the convention. The forecasts allow for existing but not for planned emission reduction policies.

The reported decline places industrialised countries close to their collective Kyoto protocol target to cut emissions by 5.2% between 1990 and 2010-2012. However, falls are concentrated almost entirely in former Soviet countries. Emissions from other developed countries were 9% up by 2003 and are forecast to reach +19% by 2010.

"Ensuring sustained and deeper emission reductions remains a challenge for developed countries," Richard Kinley, acting head of the UNFCCC, said on Thursday, ahead of the first meeting of parties to the convention's Kyoto protocol in Montreal later this month.

The report shows enormous differences between countries. Lithuania's emissions fell by 66% to 2003 while Spain's rose by 42%. Including emissions and sinks related to forestry and land-use changes, Lithuania shows a 78% decline while Canada shows a 58% increase.

The energy sector (including transport) accounts for 84% of all developed country emissions. The report also includes older and less detailed emission data for the 161 developing countries under the convention.

20 November 2005


Markets Update - 20 November 2005

Paying £40 to park a car at Heathrow is bad enough. Now airport operator BAA is apparently suggesting a special charge in an attempt to persuade motorists to make use of public transport.

According to the Evening Standard on Monday the amount charged for any motorist driving into Heathrow or Stansted airport could be around £5. The idea – one of several – is at an early stage of investigation and part of a wider consultancy exercise.

But you can bet that now the proposal is in the public domain it's going to happen sometime – and that by the time it does it will probably be nearer £10. By then, airport parking charges could well be £70 a day – meaning it would be cheaper to fly or even take the train all the way to Paris than bring the car to Heathrow.

BAA is resting its case on reducing airport congestion and pollution. No suggestion, of course, about putting extra charges on the real airport polluters: the airline operators. It may be meant to discourage drivers, but it will also hammer another nail in the coffin of BAA airport competitiveness.

Money could be used to provide better rail links, but the truth is BAA is already receiving more than enough funding from airport users in the form of passenger airline charges, plus a host of other things, to cover this.

In any case, the government gave Heathrow and Stansted to BAA, and it's difficult to argue that BAA isn't already hugely profitable. Therefore the operator must stand on its own feet. It should provide better public transport access and without recourse to charging drivers.

If BAA really needs more money it should attempt to charge the airlines more or indeed, the airport shops – as it is they who contribute to much of the traffic.

Howard Wheeldon

16 November 2005


Commission to push EU climate change Policies

Environment Daily 1981 - 14 November 2005

The European commission will drive forward EU policy making on climate change and sustainable energy next year, its 2006 legislative and work programme shows. Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso presents the programme to the European parliament on Tuesday.

The commission sees 2006 as a "critical year" for global climate policy. It stresses that the EU needs to maintain its own momentum by putting in place new measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reviewing existing ones. Its proposals add up to a substantial package that will keep climate issues at the forefront of the business agenda. The commission is promising:


* An action plan on ENERGY EFFICIENCY to follow up a green paper published this summer.

* A communication taking stock of the EU VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT ON NEW CAR CO2 EMISSIONS and proposing further steps.

* A communication on CLEAN COAL TECHNOLOGIES, aimed at stimulating technology development and opening the door to carbon capture and storage.

* A communication on FUTURE PROSPECTS FOR BIOFUELS, proposing policies beyond 2010.


* A green paper on ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE, exploring how to respond to "the increasing adverse effects" of global warming.

Not all the commission's environmental energies will be focused on climate change. In particular it will launch three important policy debates in other fields:

* A thematic strategy on SUSTAINABLE USE OF PESTICIDES, rounding off the seven strategies promised in 2002 under the EU's latest ten-year environmental action programme.

* A communication on HALTING THE DECLINE OF BIODIVERSITY BY 2010. This major review of EU nature policy will propose a "road map on priority objectives and actions".

* Legislation REVISING THE 2001 NATIONAL EMISSION CEILINGS DIRECTIVE; a key implementation measure for the recent EU air quality strategy, Cafe, setting new targets for four key pollutants.

The work programme details several other initiatives with environmental policy relevance. The commission will propose legislation to ESTABLISH A EUROPEAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, which is likely to include a focus on eco-innovation. It will issue a mid-term REVIEW OF THE 2001 WHITE PAPER ON TRANSPORT POLICY. Also due is legislation revising EU rules on MARKETING OF PESTICIDES.

Meanwhile, SIMPLIFICATION AND BETTER REGULATION will continue to be major themes in existing law and new initiatives, specifically affecting EU waste rules in 2006. A promise of more efforts to IMPROVE NATIONAL APPLICATION OF EU RULES is also likely to have an impact in the environmental policy arena.

Environment will also be on the commission's external policy agenda. The work programme promises a POLICY FRAMEWORK ON GLOBAL PUBLIC GOODS such as forests and water resources and a proposal for a RENEWABLE ENERGY FUND FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.


Environment Daily 1981 - 14 November 2005

The European Commission has launched a consultation in preparation for a review of EU transport policies set out in a 2001 white paper.

Stakeholders have until 31 December to respond to questions including the key environmental aspects of congestion, pollution, modal shift from rail to roads and massive growth in aviation.

In June, transport commissioner Jacques Barrot said that the EU should reconsider the white paper's objective of decoupling transport growth from economic growth.

See consultation http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy_transport/white_paper_transport_revision/lb_consultation_en.html, and also Mr Barrot's speech

OUR COMMENT: This is a consultation that should be responded to.

Pat Dale

16 November 2005


Environment Daily 1981 - 14 November 2005

Britain's environmental movement has stepped up attacks on prime minister Tony Blair for allegedly backsliding over climate change policy.

Early on Monday, Greenpeace activists dumped several tonnes of coal outside the prime minister's office. The group published a dossier detailing what they called Mr Blair's failings.

Separately WWF claimed that Mr Blair's "international rhetoric on environmental issues masks the fact that he is poised to fail to deliver" on either climate change or the EU's Reach chemicals policy.

See press releases from Greenpeace and WWF.

16 November 2005


Environmentalists criticise French climate plan

Environment Daily 1981 - 14 November 2005

France's climate plan launched in 2004 "lacks coherence" and could fail to deliver the country's Kyoto emissions target, 14 environmental groups have warned.

Campaigners point to recent cuts in environment agency Ademe's budget. They argue that, in the transport field, the plan should focus on curbing growth in road traffic, rather than boosting biofuel production.

The government has been far too lax on electricity generators, which can increase their carbon emissions by 20% per year between 2005 and 2007 under the EU emissions trading scheme, they claim.

16 November 2005


Ryanair announces $1 billion investment in Frankfurt Hahn airport

Finfacts Team - 11 November 2005

Ryanair, Europe's No.1 low fares airline today announced a $1 billion multi year expansion plan for its base at Frankfurt Hahn. By 2012 Ryanair will have 18 based aircraft, operate over 50 routes, carry 8 million passengers p.a. and have created over 8,000 jobs at Frankfurt Hahn airport. With this enormous investment Frankfurt Hahn will overtake Dublin to become Ryanair's second largest airport base and become Germany's fastest growing and 8th largest airport.

Announcing this major expansion in Mainz, the capital of Rhineland Palatinate, today, Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's CEO said:

"Between 2006 and 2012, Ryanair is committed to an investment of $1 billion in new aircraft at Frankfurt Hahn. With over 50 routes, 8 million passengers and 8,000 jobs this is the single biggest investment in German aviation by a non German company and will make Frankfurt Hahn one of the largest airports in Germany and Germany's fastest growing airport."

"Ryanair will also provide a loan of €12.5 million in respect of 50% of the total capital expenditure on the new passenger terminal at Frankfurt Hahn and will also locate a Ryanair maintenance facility at the airport."

"I wish to acknowledge the contribution of Fraport and the government of Rhineland Palatinate to this project. Ryanair's successful collaboration with these partners since 1999 has helped to transform the airport into a major stimulant for tourism and employment in the States economy. Today's announcement ensures that this growth will be taken a significant stage further. Over the next 7 years Ryanair looks forward to creating 8,000 jobs at Frankfurt Hahn, more than doubling passenger numbers and delivering the highest traffic growth and lowest fares in Germany."

"Frankfurt-Hahn Airport is a prime example of growth. In what is a difficult time in Germany, Hahn has succeeded in securing jobs and creating new ones. This shows that the state government has made the right decisions in its conversion policy. Thanks to the agreement with Ryanair, a total of around 10,000 jobs directly at the airport are forecast by 2012. This opens up job opportunities for the whole state", said Minister-President Kurt Beck. Today, there are 2400 jobs at the airport and more than 8000 in total.

"The increasing volume of passengers and freight and the speedy connection to Frankfurt-Hahn Airport go hand in hand. Negotiations with Deutsche Bahn AG for reactivating the Hunsrück railway have been successfully concluded. De-tailed planning is now underway. The final expansion stage of the future four-lane B 50 trunk road to the airport has begun and is being completed step-by-step", said Minister for Economic Affairs Hans-Artur Bauckhage.

"This is a breakthrough in our business relationship with Ryanair. With this contract, for the first time we have a concrete planning basis for further expansion - both of the infrastructure and also with regard to personnel planning. The agreement strengthens our position as one of the leading decidedly low-cost airports in Europe. Frankfurt-Hahn Airport is today already Ryanair's third larg-est European base (alongside London-Stansted and Dublin). With the present plans, we can participate to a considerable extent in Ryanair's continued growth", said Jörg Schumacher, Management Spokesperson for Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn GmbH.

16 November 2005


Luton will not become a 'jumbo jet airport'

Editorial - The Comet - 10 November 2005

Will Luton be welcoming more passengers following the expansion? The release of Luton Airport's draft master plan has heightened fears among residents in North Herts about the impact any expansion will have on their lives. The issue has caused much outrage in the area so Comet reporter LIZZY SEAL went to meet Luton Airport managing director Kath James and project manager Simon Earles to put to them some of our readers' concerns.

Q: Are you all really busy at the moment, during this consultation phase?

A: Yes quite busy, but positively so we can't really complain. But we recognise that obviously this is a sensitive time for the airport and the community around us. We do need to be thorough and respectful of consultation and the process and the feedback that people are giving us. We hope we've done the homework correctly and come up with the best solution for everybody. Obviously it would be arrogant of us to assume we've done everything correctly, without having everybody's feedback, so really the consultation period for us is about getting feedback on it and making sure we've understood everybody's issues.

Q: What are the key issues that you predict to hear from the public?

A: I think we'll make an assumption that there's likely to be a proportion of the population that are simply opposed to airport expansion - irrespective of how that occurs and I think we have to respect those views. Those are quite difficult views to overcome, because they are diametrically opposed to our views. Really what consultation is about for us is taking more specific concerns as opposed to such a general concern of 'I oppose airport expansion'. We will take specific concerns and see if we can accommodate these and address these, because these are real things that we can work with and where possible mitigate and avoid issues.

Q: So hopefully the exhibitions will be a portal for these people to have that chance to speak up?

A: Yes, it's going to be very important that the exhibitions gather people's feedback. It's a two-way process, otherwise it becomes a very unproductive process for us. We're clear in our heads what we're proposing, but what we haven't been able to do yet is get the communities' feelings about the proposals. That's why it's really important that the communities engage with us now and bring forward their various opinions.

Q: North Herts residents are concerned about noise pollution. What measures are you taking? Who will benefit?

A: The guide that the Government produced to assist their four airport operators in developing master plans outlined certain decibel levels that they felt would be reasonable for insulation and compensation to be offered. So they're standards the Government are expecting across the industry They are also decibel levels that as operators we would recognise as being noise thresholds, where an individual would behave in a different way. Sixty-nine decibels is the trigger for the airport coming forward and making a suggestion, or waiting for the property owner to ask for the property to be purchased. We're pleased if we do not have to displace someone out of their home. But if they may want to, and they fall into the category above 69 decibels they've got the right to ask us and we have to respond. With the southern replacement runway we would have people that fall into that category, and we will be talking to them on a specific basis.

Q: North Herts residents are worried that they may not fall into that category but they will still suffer from a lot of aircraft noise.

A: The next level down is 63 decibels, and at that point you would trigger noise insulation and compensation. The expectation of the airport is that if people fall into that category, in residential or community buildings, then noise insulation will occur. Below that (63 decibels) there is no obligation because in the Government's mind they are manageable levels, in terms of general life in the 21st century. There are a considerable number of houses that would be eligible under the terms of the scheme we've put out during consultation.

Q: What about in the summer? When it's hot and people want to have their windows open? Will you provide air conditioning units?

A: That is something that is actually compensated in some shape or form in the noise and insulation compensation, which is why it's called 'compensation'. So it's not just necessarily about noise. Air conditioning in, say, a bedroom can be as effective a mitigation against noise as double glazing.

Q: Do you foresee the plans changing significantly following the consultation period?

A: At this stage, to answer that question would be disrespectful of consultation. Everyone involved in consultation needs to be open minded, otherwise people will feel there's not much point in giving their responses if they believe there's not much margin for move. Our view is that we are completely open-minded to the plan and we certainly do not believe we have all the answers.

Q: Will you be addressing transport infrastructure BEFORE construction for airport expansion begins?

A: Absolutely. In terms of the future planning application there will be a comprehensive transport assessment that will underpin development and will be developed with the highways agency. We've been working with the Highways Agency, Herts County Council and Beds County Council for nine months now. We are currently putting together a model that will predict the impact of the airport in the future and will help us to determine collectively what schemes are required to make it all work. In terms of public transport we're doing really well already. We're outperforming, but we can do better. The introduction of the transit system, we believe, will continue to improve the product and encourage more people to use public transport.

Q: In the draft master plan you admit that there will be a high impact on the natural environment. What will you do to offset this?

A: We will go through a very comprehensive site survey of the land and all of the environment, to ensure everything is documented - flora, fauna, architecture - firstly for historical records and then for the relocation and replacement programme, replacing as much as possible. Woodland will be difficult but mitigation measures will be taken there. Flora and fauna is a bit easier as we can very carefully relocate this. Ultimately, planning applications these days have to take into account these things and we can't ignore them and nor should we. We're looking into all these very early in the process, we're monitoring throughout the seasons and then we can put a very detailed plan into place.

Q: What are the chances of the existing runway becoming the second of two runways?

A: I think we would recognise that if you look at the plans there will be some people contemplating that is what we are trying to do. It genuinely isn't the driver of why we have proposed the replacement runway where it is. The replacement runway position is all about managing construction and the general environment. It is, we would imagine, preferential to people in Breachwood Green as opposed to extending the existing runway. The existing runway has very challenging geography. It would require significant filling and in terms of construction it would not have been the preferred option. One of the objectives was to find a piece of land which was the flattest and we kept going south until we found that piece of land, and then stopped. The reason we are 950m to the south is because the geography of the land is wholly more helpful in terms of runway construction.

Q: So we will be seeing jumbo jets in Luton?

A: We do not envisage ourselves as a 'jumbo-jet airport'. Much of what we envisage is more of the same of what people see today, the 737, the Airbus, A320s and A319s, and adding frequencies to our existing routes and also adding more routes into Europe. So in our view that would continue to be our core market. Of course we will have the runway capabilities to add some longer destinations such as eastern America and the Indian sub-continent but this will be a very small section of flights. We don't envisage this being another Heathrow.

Where to view the exhibitions
To make your views known, visit one of these exhibitions in your area:
Breachwood Green: Village Hall, November 11, 9.30am-7.30pm
Stevenage: Leisure Centre (The Gallery), November 14, 10am-9pm
Kimpton: Memorial Hall, November 18, 11am-9pm
Whitwell: New Fellowship Hall, November 21, 6pm-10pm
Hitchin: Church House, Churchyard, December 21, 10am-9pm

OUR COMMENT: We've heard all this before! Luton residents who have not experienced what living under a flight path is like should personally check on the situation at the moment. Neither fine words nor good intentions can make an airport environmentally friendly. All airports are very noisy and all airports produce undesirable emissions. The unpleasant effects depend mainly on the number of flights and at the moment there is no green aircraft that will transform busy airports into desirable neighbours.

Pat Dale

16 November 2005


Air travellers to be hit by EU emissions tax

Edward Simpkins - The Sunday Telegraph - 13 November 2005

The cost of flying could soar as early as next year under plans being proposed by the Government to include aviation in a controversial emissions trading scheme.

If agreed, passengers will have to pay an extra charge to help offset the damage to the environment caused by the pollutants produced during flight. The charge, which could more than double the cost of many low-cost flights, will be used to pay for schemes elsewhere in the world that reduce carbon use such as tree planting.

The Sunday Telegraph has learned that the Government plans to use the UK's presidency of the Council of the European Union, which runs until the end of this year, to introduce legislation forcing all airlines flying in Europe to pay a charge for emissions above a permitted level. Fuming: Ryanair is said to be vehemently opposed to Government plans for an emissions surcharge, but BA and easyJet support it.

During the UK's presidency the EU has so far failed to agree a budget or make progress on agricultural subsidy reform and the Government has been criticised for its lack of achievement in the influential role. But senior Government figures believe introducing emissions trading would be an appropriate legacy and strengthen the EU's position when the British Government represents Europe at the United Nations climate change summit in December.

The UK chairs a meeting of the Environmental session of the European Council on December 1 and is expected to introduce the measures then. The proposed legislation would have to be agreed by the Council. A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "The EU is hoping to introduce a legislative programme next year and we are using our presidency to work towards that."

The plans have split airlines with British Airways and easyJet in favour but Ryanair resolutely opposed.

Dr Andrew Sentance, BA's chief economist and head of environmental affairs, said he welcomed the move. "We believe that emissions trading is the most environmentally effective and economically efficient way to manage carbon dioxide emissions from aviation," he said.

BA argues the scheme should apply only to flights within the EU but the Government's initial proposal will be to include all flights to or from an EU airport, bringing long-haul passengers and US airlines into the net.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the largest shareholder in easyJet, said: "We back the emissions trading but it has to be fair for all airlines and not penalise low-cost airlines."

OUR COMMENT: The rest of industry and their customers have to contribute towards the prevention of serious climate change, why should aviation or air passengers be exempt?

Pat Dale

16 November 2005


Has O'Leary mellowed? Don't you even begin to believe it.

Oliver Morgan - The Observer - 13 November 2005

Ryanair's boss is a new father, but that doesn't mean he's going soft. As ever, he's talking tough and plotting the next revolution in air travel.

There is bad news for those who like their executives dressed in suits and ties and their utterances to be expletive free. Michael O'Leary, the denim wearing, f-word-spluttering, chief executive of Ryanair is staying on longer than planned. Word on the industry grapevine was that the man who, since 1994, has piloted Ryanair, often through a red mist, on the way to making it the fastest-growing, most profitable airline in the world was about to call it a day.

By the end of this financial year, Ryanair would be carrying 35.5 million passengers, making it the largest international airline in Europe. O'Leary had never dissuaded people from thinking that that would be the moment when he would give up the controls. Not any more. Last week, as he unveiled a record €237 million (£159m) half-year profit along with record passenger numbers and revenues and a major expansion into Germany, he said he would stay on for three to four years to finish some unfinished business - launching an assault on airports and the charges they levy on airlines.

"I get this every couple of years - when are you going to step down?," he said. "I said probably in the next couple of years, but there are a couple of issues I want to sort out first, Stansted and Dublin airports for example. We would like to kick off the next revolution."

O'Leary believes that the next revolution - holding out the threat of bypassing terminals through online check-in - could save Ryanair €250m a year, just under 25 per cent of its cost-base. "This is as significant as moving from travel agents," he says. His tone is as evangelical as it ever was when attacking the EU for threatening to ban his lucrative agreements with European airports, or those travel agents for inflating the costs of bookings or British Airways for being... well, British Airways. He does not sound like a man pining for the golf course.

So the question, "Has being married [in 2001] and having your first child [Matt, five weeks] mellowed you?", brings a derivsive howl. "No. Absolutely not. The meek may inherit the Earth, but they will not have it for long."

Few observers are surprised. One analyst says: "It is going to be very hard to step away from one of the most profitable airlines in the world, with the growth prospects it has."

Nevertheless, a valedictory tone is creeping in to O'Leary's patois: "At a certain point, it becomes right. In many ways I have been one of their strengths, and one of their weakneses. In growing business, you need someone pugilistic, calling regulators gobshites, you need that hucksterism when you are building something small into something big. But when you are big, you need a different relationship with government and regulators. I don't think that is me. You have to know when the entrepreneurial gobshite has to go. And I have just had the first child."

So having the child has altered his perspective? O'Leary can't resist a quip: "My experience of five weeks of fatherhood is that I want to spend more time at the office." However, there are serious issues behind his plans to move on. Succession planning, for example. "There's a young management team. They will want to take over."

Does he have any thoughts on who should be in the hot seat? "It's a question for the board of Ryanair, but there are very good candidates. There is Michael Cawley [chief operating officer] and Howard Miller [chief financial officer], both of whom would make excellent CEOs. They have been working with me for years."

O'Leary believes it is a part of Ryanair's success that it should be clear when he needs to hand over. "It would be very difficult for me to don a tie and go on to committees. Could you imagine me looking for a knighthood? Puke. The weakness of British Airways is that everyone is looking for a knighthood."

As ever, O'Leary cannot resist a dig at BA, now run by fellow Irishman Willie Walsh, formerly chief executive of Aer Lingus, which he turned around from near bankruptcy after 9/11 to profitability, via several thousand redundancies. O'Leary has a high regard for Walsh. "He comes to BA with a job well done at Aer Lingus. But he was given room to execute it and he did very well. Will he have the freedom at BA?" But he does not underestimate BA. He may believe that the Ryanair low-cost model will ultimately overtake flag carriers, but it will be hard.

Ryanair is targeting 70 million passengers by 2011. O'Leary says this is in line with the 25 per cent trajectory that has seen the airline grow from 12 million passengers a year in 2000. If he hits the 70 million, it will make Ryanair the largest airline outside America. But if, as he believes, European airlines consolidate, their totals will increase to above 50 million each and they may become more competitive.

These are not simply lines on charts. Ryanair has ordered the planes. "By the end of this financial year we will have 107 aircraft," says O'Leary. "We will have 225 by the end of March 2011. There is an option for 100 more to go to 325, that will enable us to double in size."

He recognises that as the airline grows some costs will rise - labour went up 20 per cent past year. As long as the airline is growing this can be absorbed, along with more cyclical increases, such as the 108 per cent rise in the fuel bill. O'Leary says that new planes - Boeing 737-800s - carry 45 per cent more people, so the airline was able to recruit pilots, pay them more and still staff costs rose at a lower rate than revenues.

Meanwhile, Ryanair plans to add to the number of its European base airports. "We have opened 13 bases since 1997 and are looking at about the same in the next five years." O'Leary has a clear idea of where the European aviation market is going. "There are going to be three big players: the BA family, which will be BA and Iberia; Air France with KLM; and probably Alitalia and Lufthansa with SAS and Austrian. Those three will be the carriers for connecting flights across Europe. If you are flying long haul you will fly with one of them and be pushed through Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt. What the big guys are going to do is keep raising fares across the hub airports because they can and they will drive people through those hubs."

The transfer of short-haul routes will increasingly fall to low-cost carriers - although he believes the process is still in its infancy and there are years of growth ahead. The other battle is with airports. O'Leary's bete noir is BAA (formerly British Airports Authority), the regulated owner of Heathrow, Gatwick and, critically for him, Stansted, where it plans to spend £4bn on a second runway. O'Leary says BAA's £4bn is too expensive - he thinks it can be done for £500m to £800m. But his concerns go beyond this, to the charges he pays to BAA, which he says are over the top.

He has a plan: "We are going to have 75-80 per cent of our passengers checking in online early next year. Most of our passengers with hand luggage. When you book a ticket and print off your own boarding card, you no longer have to check in at the airport. You don't need to go through the terminal building, you don't need to pay terminal charges for check-in desks. This is the way to blow up the airport monopoly. We would save 20 per cent of our costs - €50m total across the business." It is this fight, he says, that is motivating him to stay on. But observers believe he could also be staying on because there is a big question over what he does next. He is unlikely to seek to start up other businesses like the founder of Easyjet, Stelios Haji-Ianou.

"They are completely different animal," says one observer. "Stelios is a serial entrpreneur who feels uncomfortable with the rigours of corporate life. Michael rails against it, but is quite happy with the regulation of the quoted market. His background is accountancy, which is conformist."

Others point out that for all the bluster, O'Leary has a conventional background, starting at the elite Jesuit boarding school Clongowes. And another who knows him says: "He might have to do what he has always said he would never do, which is spend more time playing golf." O'Leary denies it. He may want to tone down on the 6.30am-7pm five-day week, but, he says, he still itches to get up the noses of the establishment. Perhaps he'd like to turn down a knighthood, too.

16 November 2005


Dick Murray - Evening Standard - 14 November 2005

MOTORISTS face a charge of £5 or more to drive into Heathrow and Stansted airports. The 'access charge' would be on top of parking charges of up to £40 for 24 hours and the London congestion charge.

Airport owner BAA says it is one of a number of options being considered to encourage travellers to use public transport. It would be part of a plan to ease congestion around the airports and reduce pollution. Other options include:

An area-wide charge on the M25 and M4 around Heathrow
Individual motorway tolls
A massive increase of airport parking charges

Mike Clasper, BAA chief executive, said: "We believe that some form of road user charging is likely to be needed at Heathrow. This would discourage driving where there are alternatives and provide an important source of revenue for investment in public transport."

He added: "This is also a matter for serious consideration at Stansted and we will be exploring the feasibility of such schemes over the coming months."

The idea of an M4 toll has been suggested before but this is the first time that an access charge for either airport has been considered. The motorway toll would have the huge disadvantage of catching millions of motorists with no connection to the airport.

BAA, which is working on the plans with the Department for Transport, would use the revenue to boost Airtrack - a planned new rail scheme linking Terminal 5 with the South and South-West. The line would mean direct access to Heathrow from Surrey and Waterloo via Clapham Junction, Staines and Reading. Both road user charging and the new line, says BAA, would be essential to support a third runway at Heathrow.

The Government has not given permission for a third runway but has indicated it is an option if the favoured alternative of expanding Stansted falls through. Mr Clasper said: "Airtrack would open up access to Heathrow from the South Coast and the West."

A BAA spokesman said it was "too early" to say how much any tolls or airport access charges might be. He confirmed that specialist consultants are now working on a number of options. The studies would include an analysis of, for instance, the effect a toll charge and subsequent reduction in road usage on the M4 would have on air quality at Heathrow.

"It is the UK's busiest airport, handles 180,000 travellers a day and employs 70,000 staff. A new station is being built at T5 to take extensions to the Piccadilly line and also the Heathrow Express. But the station will also have two 'spare' platforms which could be used by Airtrack, or even Crossrail. Plans for the £5 access charge at Stansted were given a cautious welcome by campaigners protesting at the congestion created by the airport."

Carol Barbone, director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said today: "It would have to be accompanied by improvements to public transport."

16 November 2005


PM taken to task over global warming

Matthew Tempest - The Guardian - 14 November 2005

Three of the entrances to Downing Street were blocked with dumped coal today, as environmental groups attacked the government's record on climate change. Greenpeace dumped the fuel around No 10 to highlight the UK's increasing CO2 emissions, whilst the World Wildlife Fund criticised Tony Blair for adopting an "indistinguishable" position from US president George Bush.

Mr Blair has promised to make global warming and Africa Britain's two priorities for chairing the G8 group of the world's richest nations. But WWF campaigns director Andrew Lee said that by emphasising that targets for cutting damaging greenhouse gas emissions must not be at the expense of economic growth, Mr Blair was undermining efforts to deal with the issue.

"This is exactly the language we hear from George Bush and these statements have been very widely interpreted across the US, for example, of our prime minister moving towards George Bush on climate change and away from targets," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Simultaneously, Greenpeace were taking direct action in Whitehall to highlight the issue. Protesters dumped sacks of coal across the Horse Guards Road entrance, the King Charles Street entrance and the access point of Horse Guards Parade at around 7.30am, after informing police of what they were about to do. Another tipper truck destined for the Whitehall entrance, with 14 tonnes of coal on board and the slogan "Things can only get wetter", was stopped by police.

Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "We've blockaded Downing Street with coal because Tony Blair has failed on climate change. We hope he clears his diary and spends the day in his office working to strengthen Kyoto and cut British emissions, because so far all he's done is make speeches."

"Climate change is already killing 150,000 people a year, hundreds of species are threatened with extinction and entire island states could disappear under water. We're facing a climate catastrophe, but Blair's backtracking. He needs to act, and soon. He could cut emissions by burning less coal, getting right behind renewable energy schemes, dropping airport expansion plans, making cars use less fuel and making Britain's buildings more energy-efficient."

Earlier this month, Mr Blair said "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge". But Lord May, president of the Royal Society, warned last week: "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that countries are not doing enough to adapt their economies so that they reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."

Mark Strutt, a Greenpeace climate change campaigner, said the aim of today's stunt was to trap the prime minister inside Downing Street so he would have to clear his diary of planned engagements and address the issue of global warming. According to the group, Britain now burns 7.5% more coal than in 1997, and will miss its target of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010.

The WWF attacked Mr Blair for "setting himself up ... as a strong global leader on these issues" then making no commitments beyond "nice talk."

But the government's chief scientific adviser Professor Sir David King dismissed WWF's criticisms as "grossly unfair".

"I think we achieved an enormous amount. We now have 12 states in the United States saying they wish to engage in emissions trading to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have got all five states in Australia firm on reducing emissions. We have got a statement from the G8 saying that we will act with resolve and urgency now to meet our objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he told the Today programme.

But the Tories backed the WWF's position. The shadow environment secretary Oliver Letwin said: "The WWF is right to sound a warning note. The government's record to date on achieving carbon reduction has unfortunately not lived up to its rhetoric - and there are now worrying signs that the prime minister's resolve is weakening."

12 November 2005


Tougher second round carbon trading caps urged

Environment Daily 1979 - 10 November 2005

Governments must set stricter caps in the second phase of the EU industrial carbon emission trading scheme if industry is to contribute to national emission targets, environmental group WWF said on Wednesday.

The NGO put at nearly 9% across six surveyed countries the required cut in maximum industry emissions in 2008-12 compared with the first trading period, 2005-7. Germany, the UK, Poland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, account for 68% of industry carbon emissions, it said. All member states have to submit national allocation plans (Naps) for the scheme's second phase by next spring.

WWF based its estimate of each country's required emissions cut from how far it stands from its Kyoto target for national emissions, plus the share of emissions produced by companies covered by the scheme. Italian industry would have to make the biggest sacrifice, with a 16% cut in its annual allowances, equivalent to 196m tons of CO2. It is closely followed by firms in Spain, whose cap level would fall from 160 to 137m tonnes of CO2.

WWF recommended that up to 10% of total allowances should be auctioned in the scheme's second phase. This share could increase to 100% for the power sector after 2012, and to 20% for other trading sectors.

Installations using low carbon fuel or technologies should receive generous amounts of free allowances in order to reward investment, it group said. The current "grandfathering" approach prevents phasing out of Europe's "dirtiest" power stations, it claimed.

Governments should also set an explicit emissions cap for the non-trading sector for the trading period, WWF added. Regarding the "linking" directive, it called on EU countries to use Kyoto carbon credits with caution. For example, credits from land use and forestry activities should remain excluded while nuclear projects would not be recognised up to 2012.

According to a major review of the scheme's first phase by consultancies Oko Institute and Ilex on behalf of WWF, the scheme has in some cases failed to provide emissions cuts.

WWF argued that member states have set "weak" caps based on emission projections rather than historic data. This created an "inflation" of emission allowances, leading some of them to overshoot their national targets, it said.


UK 'losing authority' on global warming as emissions rise

David Adam, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 10 November 2005

The UK risks losing its international authority on climate change because of its failure to cut greenhouse gas pollution, according to a leading scientist.

Bob May, president of the Royal Society, said new figures showing that UK emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases which contribute to global warming have risen in the last two years, made it difficult for British politicians to be taken seriously on the issue.

He said: "It is very difficult to criticise other countries such as the United States if we are unable to meet our commitments. Indeed, emissions by the United States have actually declined over the last two years, although they are some 20% above the 1990 levels."

Lord May also responded to Tony Blair's apparent shift away from a target based approach to tackling climate change, saying that politicians needed "courage" to address the problem. In a speech to energy and environment ministers last week, the prime minister said: "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge, but all economies know that the only sensible long term way of developing is to do it on a sustainable basis". Lord May said: "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that countries are not doing enough to adapt their economies so that they reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."

Figures from the DEFRA show that UK greenhouse gases are 12.6% below 1990 levels. Under the Kyoto protocol Britain has to reduce them by 12.5% by 2012. But Lord May said the recent increase in emissions, caused in part by electricity generators switching to coal in the face of rising gas prices, meant Britain would fail to meet its Kyoto obligation if current trends continued.

"What we need is courage from our political leaders, both within and outside government, to take those actions necessary to reduce our emissions" he said in a statement ahead of today's House of Lords debate on climate change. Lord May said that climate change was warming the oceans, provoking more intense tropical storms.

"Nobody can say that global warming played no part in the unusual ferocity of hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita. The estimated damage caused by hurricane Katrina alone was equivalent to 1.7% of US GDP. This is an insight into the economic cost to the developed world."

OUR COMMENT: The election target was 20% reduction, and 50% by 2050! A clear case for immediate selective taxes on unnecessary fuel use, such as certain cars and short haul flights.

Pat Dale

12 November 2005


Ryanair's flight path puts profits into Stratosphere

Alistair Osborne, Business Editor - Daily Telegraph - 8 November 2005

Mr O'Leary, 44, said he first wanted to resolve "the £4billion BAA farce at Stansted", where the airports operator plans to build a second runway, and similarly "over-specified" plans for Dublin Airport's second terminal.

Mr O'Leary continued to rail at that "glorified shopping mall BAA", arguing that once he introduced online check-ins for passengers carrying only hand luggage, they could avoid the shops altogether.

"I could check in people in the car park, which would be cheaper than BAA," Mr O'Leary said. "If they don't let me use their car parks we might let them check in at the truckers' car park on the M11."

He added he would continue to drive down fares. "If you look at the Wal-Marts, the Tescos, the Dells, success has always come from reducing prices. We are the Tesco of the airline industry."


Michael Harrison, Business Editor - The Independent - 8 November 2005

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, yesterday committed himself to the no-frills airline for a further three to four years at least as it reported record first-half profits despite the surge in fuel prices.

Mr O'Leary, who has run the Irish carrier since 1994, said it would take that long to sort out problems at its two biggest bases - Dublin airport and Stansted, where Ryanair is in dispute with BAA over proposals to spend up to £4bn on a new runway and associated facilities.

He said that unless Ryanair could come to some agreement with BAA over the cost of the Stansted expansion - the airline thinks the new runway could be built for £400m-£600m - he would seriously consider bypassing BAA by checking in passengers outside the airport and bussing them direct to the runway.

The airline, which reported a 22 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to €269.5m (£182.3m) for the six months to the end of September, will carry 35 million passengers this year, making it the biggest international scheduled carrier in the world. It plans to double in size and profitability over the next five years, flying 70 million passengers by 2012 from 30 European bases compared with 15 at present.

Mr O'Leary, 44, had always said he would reconsider his position when he achieved his target of overtaking Lufthansa as Europe's biggest carrier. Yesterday he said: "I have no plans to move on at the moment but some time in the next four to five years, yes, it will be time."

He said that by then Ryanair would be one of only four airlines that mattered in Europe - the others being Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa - and would need to have a different relationship with institutions such as the European Commission that befitted its size and importance.

"The airline will have to become more professional in the way it approaches decision making and more sensitive to environmental whingeing and the goon platoons and that certainly won't be me," he said.

He was speaking as Ryanair forecast that yields - or average fares - would fall by 5 to 10 per cent in the fourth quarter after rising 3 per cent in the first half of the year. "We continue to remain cautious in our outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year," Mr O'Leary said. "This winter we expect there to be continued intense competition and there will be fewer low-fare carriers in the market as higher fuel prices force more carriers out of the industry." Ryanair shares slipped 3 per cent to €6.79.

Ryanair's fuel costs rose 108 per cent in the first half to €237m, resulting in an 8 per cent increase in unit costs. Excluding fuel, unit costs were down 7 per cent. Ryanair's fuel purchases were unhedged for most of the period but for the remainder of the year it has fixed 90 per cent of its requirements at $49 a barrel.

Ancillary revenues from services such as on-board sales, car hire and travel insurance increased by 40 per cent, accounting for 13 per cent of the €946m in total income the airline generated. Mr O'Leary said Ryanair planned a big push to increase revenues from hotel bookings.

The airline is in talks with two budget hotel operators about developing new hotels next to airports served by Ryanair. In return for guaranteeing customers, Ryanair would take a cut of the room tariffs. As an example, Mr O'Leary cited its base at Barcelona Girona, where passenger numbers are forecast to double to 10 million in the next five years. He said it had two hotels but needed a further three.


James Quinn - Daily Mail - 9 November 2005

BUDGET airlines are angry over BAA's plan to lavish £4bn on London's Stansted airport when rival Luton is spending just £1.5bn on a near-identical scheme.

ANGRY: Ryanair's Michael O'Leary is leading the protests

BAA, which also owns Heathrow and Gatwick, wants to build a second runway and a new terminal at the Essex site.

But opposition from nofrills carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet flared when Luton unveiled similar plans at less than half the cost. Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary is leading the protest.

He has written to the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Transport questioning the massive expenditure.

He said: "All the airlines are asking why BAA is doing this? We think it is wasting everyone's time and money." O'Leary, who says airlines are being forced to stump up cash even before the work has begun, is demanding a face-to-face meeting with the CAA and DoT to put their case.

David O'Brien, who is chairman of the Stansted airport users' committee, is unhappy that BAA has not yet released its final proposals for Stansted. He said: "It has a plan to spend in excess of £100m on architects and the like on a project that has yet to be revealed to its customers."

O'Brien also questions passenger growth forecasts drawn up by BAA, which has yet to say why it believes that 80m people a year could eventually pass through Stansted's doors. A BAA spokesman played down the unrest, saying: "It's a bit of phoney war. When we do release our plans we can encourage a full debate made on the basis of fact, not of rhetoric."

BAA is due to release traffic numbers for October later today. They are expected to show fairly flat growth for its major London airports.

9 November 2005


Saffron Walden Reporter - 3 November 2005

BAA's announcement on Tuesday that 700 staff jobs could go across the board following a drop in pre-tax profits, excluding property deals, from £597million to £367 million is unlikely to have a major impact on staffing at Stansted Airport.

A spokesman for Stansted said: "At Stansted we serve a fast-moving and dynamic sector of the aviation industry. We need to continue to be efficient in order to keep costs down for our customers, airlines and passengers alike."

"This means we give top priority to resourcing front-line services and this will continue to be the case as we invest in our people and in our business for the benefit of passenger growth and future airport development."

"Our challenge is to continuously improve the way we work in line with the demands of our customers. From time to time that means change, and it means we have to take a hard look at the way we do things. Inevitably this has an impact on some jobs, but here at Stansted with passenger numbers continuing to grow, and with our plans for future airport development firmly on track, we expect overall to see more jobs at the airport rather than less."

BAA Chief Executive, Mike Clasper, said that he was looking to make £45 million savings a year by 2008 by streamlining management and back office staff without reducing customer services.

The BAA group revealed an underlying profit increase for the six months up to the end of September of 9.6 per cent after carrying 82.3 million passengers at its airports during the same period, an increase of 2.5 per cent over the previous year.

9 November 2005


Ryanair H1 net profit up 18 pct - 'cautious' outlook

Forbes Online - 7 November 2005

LONDON (AFX) - Ryanair Holdings PLC, Europe's largest no-frills airline, has reported record half year net profit but is still taking a cautious view on the outlook for the balance of its financial year, sending its shares lower.

"We continue to remain cautious in our outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year," said chief executive Michael O'Leary.

"We anticipate that the fare differentials between Ryanair and the flag carriers will be partially eroded as the fuel surchargers are forced to lower their underlying fares to compete with Ryanair's lower prices."

The airline expects 'significant' increases in passenger volumes and anticipates that third quarter yields will be 'broadly in line' with last year and fourth quarter yields will fall by 5-10 pct, as previously guided.

The fourth quarter fall reflects capacity growth and the lack of an Easter in the period this year. Yields for the full year are expected to be more or less flat. Ryanair's net profit guidance is unchanged -- year to end-March 2006 net profit of 295 mln eur, up 10 pct on the previous year.

"This winter we expect that there will be continued intense competition and there will be fewer low fare carriers in the market as higher fuel prices force more carriers out of the industry," added O'Leary.

Howard Millar, deputy chief executive, said 'attrition' is also reflected in rivals withdrawing from routes.

"We see a lot of carriers cutting back competing with us," he said. "British Airways have cut down 10 routes where they previously competed out of Manchester and Birmingham with where we operated out of Liverpool and East Midlands, we continue to see easyJet retreat in competition with us in the Italian and Spanish markets," he told AFX News. Millar claimed no other low-fare or charter airline is seriously challenging Ryanair on fares.

"We would see ourselves significantly ahead of the rest. Despite fuel costs rising by over 100 pct (in the first half) our average fare only went up by less than 80 pence," he said.

For the six months to Sept 30 the Dublin-based carrier made profit after tax of 237 mln eur, an 18 pct increase on last year's 201.2 mln eur. This was achieved on a 33 pct rise in revenue to 946.2 mln eur, reflecting a 29 pct increase in passengers to 18.0 mln. Yields or average fares increased by 3 pct, despite a 29 pct rise in seat capacity. Unit costs increased 8 pct as fuel costs rose 108 pct to 236.9 mln eur.

Excluding fuel unit costs fell 7 pct, reflecting the addition of more lower cost and efficient Boeing 737-800s, new lower cost airport and base agreements and continuing tight control over all other cost lines.

Ancillary revenues grew 40 pct, significantly faster than the growth in passenger volumes. The key drivers were car rental, hotels, travel insurance, rail and bus tickets, and on-board sales. "We certainly feel in the medium term that these items will continue to outpace the growth of passenger volumes," said Millar.

As ancillary revenue grows Ryanair plans to increase the level of 'free' seats it offers from the current 25 pct. O'Leary has suggested all flights could eventually be free if on-board gambling, expected to be trialled in 2007, takes off in a big way. Ryanair's adjusted after tax margin for the half year fell 3 points to 25 pct.

The airline was unhedged for almost the entire half year but for the remainder of the year is 90 pct hedged at rates equivalent to 49 usd per barrel. It is unhedged thereafter but is continuing to monitor forward prices with a view to hedging requirements for summer 2006. Ryanair plans to double passenger volumes and profits by 2012 as it believes the industry is still in the early stages of low fare development.

It renewed its attack on BAA PLC over its plans to invest 4 bln stg developing Stansted airport, labelling it 'a farce', and criticised as 'beyond belief' the Commission for Aviation Regulation's decision to allow Dublin airport to increase airport charges by 23 pct from January 2006 to pay for a proposed second terminal five years before it is built.

At 10.28 am shares in Ryanair were down 0.16 eur at 6.82, valuing the business at 5.25 bln eur.

9 November 2005


Greenhouse gases 'to rise by 52%'

BBC Online - 7 November 2005

The IEA warns that energy consumption must be reduced Global greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 52% by 2030, unless the world takes action to reduce energy consumption, a study has warned.

The prediction comes from the latest annual World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that under current consumption trends, energy demand will also rise by more than 50% over the next 25 years.

The IEA adds that oil prices will "substantially" rise unless there is extra investment in oil facilities. It says the world has seen "years of under-investment" in both oil production and the refinery sector.

The organisation estimates that the global oil industry now needs to invest $20.3 trillion (£12 trillion) in fresh facilities by 2030, or else the wider global economy could suffer.


"These projected trends have important implications and lead to a future that is not sustainable," said IEA chief Claude Mandil. If investments [in oil fields] do not come in a timely and sufficient manner, there will be higher oil prices, and global economic growth will suffer.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol: "We must change these outcomes and get the planet onto a sustainable energy path."

The IEA's warning comes at a time when the Kyoto climate change agreement calls on developed nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-12. It also cautions that oil producers need to double annual investments in their oil fields or else see another £13 a barrel on the projected price of oil over the next 25 years.

Economic Impact

The IEA says this extra investment is vital to avoid the supply bottlenecks that saw oil prices rise above $70 a barrel in late August. "If investments do not come in a timely and sufficient manner, there will be higher oil prices, and global economic growth will suffer," said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

The IEA says the world has enough oil supplies to last until 2030, and that the core issue is instead the need to improve the supply chain. The IEA is made up of the 26 main industrialised nations who are the major oil consumers.

9 November 2005


Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor - The Independent - 7 November 2005

Every British motorist will soon be driving on petrol made from sugar beet and diesel made from oilseed rape as part of the Government's fight against climate change.

Biofuels, which are made from crops and do not add to the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) causing global warming, are to become an everyday feature of UK road transport, in the biggest fuel shift since unleaded petrol was introduced more than 15 years ago.

The Government is drawing up a biofuel obligation, which will require oil companies such as Shell and BP to blend a fixed proportion of biofuels - initially 5 per cent - with all the petrol and diesel that they sell on garage forecourts.

OUR COMMENT: There is some hope for our car reliant society but no such hope for aircraft. Only by restricting expansion can carbon emissions be stabilised during the immediate future. We can't afford to wait for the ultimate green plane which may be years away.

Pat Dale

6 November 2005


De Havilland Online - 1 November 2005

The British Airports Authority (BAA) has announced that it is shedding 700 jobs as part of a major cost-cutting drive.

Britain's largest airport operator claims that the cuts will result in a one-off saving of up to £90 million and will enable it to trim its annual operating costs by £45 million by 2008-9. They are part of a major restructuring drive of BAA's managerial and corporate structure, following the announcement of disappointing pre-tax profits.

The group announced pre-tax profits of £367 million in the six months to September, 38.5 per cent lower than during the same period in 2004. Despite this Mike Clasper, BAA's chief executive, believes that the future outlook remains positive.

"We remain confident of delivering a good retail performance, maintaining tight control of costs and, as announced on 20 September 2005, we anticipate around three per cent traffic growth for our UK airports this year," he said.

"We have delivered this performance despite a slowing UK economy and the impact of this summer's London bombings and the Gate Gourmet dispute. These results demonstrate the strength of our business, our assets and our management."

He stressed that most of the cuts will focus on back-office staff and management, and would not affect the number of staff on the ground at airports.

"In the last 12 months we've been re-shaping the top management and now we want to streamline the management and admin staff of the business and get our managers closer to the business to deliver that better leadership and get the right people in the right jobs," he added on the Today programme.

The news comes despite a surge in passenger numbers this year at BAA's seven UK airports. In total, 82.3 million passengers passed through the airports during the six-month period, a 2.5 per cent increase on 2004.


Michael Harrison - The Independent - 2 November 2005

BAA, the airports operator, unveiled a sweeping cost-reduction plan yesterday involving 700 job losses and warned that it could not rule out compulsory redundancies.

The cutbacks will be concentrated mainly at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted and will reduce the number of managerial, administration and back-office staff at BAA's seven UK airports by 20 per cent over the next three years. BAA said the plan would produce annual savings of £45m by 2008-09 at a one-off cost of £90m, the bulk of which will be redundancy payments.

Unions at BAA said they were shocked by the scale of the cutbacks, coming on the same day the company announced a 10 per cent rise in operating profits to £416m for the first half of the year. Brendan Gold, the national secretary for civil air transport at the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "It does give us cause for concern that a company like BAA has bypassed normal consultation and told 700 staff they have an uncertain future."

BAA's chief executive Mike Clasper insisted the job cuts were necessary to reduce the cost of serving its airline customers. He pledged there could be no redundancies among front-line workers such as security staff, baggage handlers and engineers.

The cutbacks will reduce the number of administrative and support staff from 3,500 to 2,800. In total BAA employs 12,000 staff. Mr Clasper said over time, the BAA workforce was likely to rise, particularly when Heathrow's Terminal 5 opens in 2008 and Stansted expands to handle 30 million passengers. Most of the new staff will be front-line.

Mr Clasper said he expected the "significantly lower costs" BAA planned to achieve to be passed back to its airline customers when airport charges were next reviewed in 2008. Willie Walsh, the new chief executive of British Airways, and Sir Michael Bishop, the chairman of bmi - the two biggest operators at Heathrow - are understood to have backed the cost-cutting drive.

Underlying pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of September rose by £18m to £366m. They would have been higher but for the Gate Gourmet strike at Heathrow and July's London bombings, which cost BAA an estimated 500,000 passengers and £5m in profits.

BAA is due to give an update next month on the precise costs and positioning of the second runway to be built at Stansted.

OUR COMMENT: The government's predictions for air traffic increase (the basis for the whole airport expansion policy) was 4% annually across all airlines.

Pat Dale

6 November 2005


Another voice is set to come out against the proposal
for a second runway at Stansted

Ipswich Evening Star - 2 November 2005

Suffolk County Council has announced the cabinet will oppose the controversial plans in response to consultation on the future of the airport.

The cabinet has decided that, at the next full council meeting on November 10, it will put forward a motion of opposition and will also suggest opposing any increase in passenger numbers beyond the 25 million per year currently allowed, pending a final decision on a second runway there.

The cabinet also believes that the expansion of any airport nationally, possibly including new runways, should only be considered as part of an integrated national strategy for air transport.

This echoes concerns raised previously in The Evening Star's Air Fair campaign launched to highlight the growth in air traffic in the region and the effects on people living under flightpaths and aircraft stacking routes.

At a meeting of the executive earlier this week, it was also decided that the county council wanted to underline the importance of increasing the number of passengers who travel to and from Stansted Airport by public transport.

It was agreed that the reinstatement of express coach services linking east and mid Suffolk to the airport would be particularly valuable in this respect.

The cabinet said access from Suffolk should be further improved by dualling the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey and recommended that ongoing rail studies should consider the possible introduction of a rail link between Braintree and Stansted with access from the Great Eastern Main Line.

A planning application for increased throughput to 35 million passengers per year is expected to be made in Spring 2006.

6 November 2005


G8 ministers try to bridge climate divides

Environment Daily 1973 - 2 November 2005

Energy and environment ministers from the G8 countries and 12 more developed and developing nations met in London on Tuesday for informal talks on global warming. The "dialogue on climate change, clean energy and sustainable development" was launched by the UK this summer, with an aim to begin healing divisions over climate policy (ED 08/07/05 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=19171).

The meeting's publicised outcomes were more practical than political. In a statement, the UK environment ministry said that dialogue partners had agreed to "work together" on deployment of clean technologies and on incentives for large-scale private sector investment in low carbon technologies.

Partners will also work on "a new model for cooperation" on technology transfer between developed and developing countries first proposed at the Gleneagles summit of G8 leaders in July, and on reinforcing action on adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Hovering behind these technology-focused discussions is the key question of the global legal framework needed after 2012, when the Kyoto protocol's targets for industrialised countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions expire.

Challenged by journalists, UK environment minister Margaret Beckett insisted that the dialogue would not provide immediate answers but would, she hoped, lay a foundation for more constructive discussions. "This is not meant to substitute for the UN process. It is meant to enable people to explore the issues, and to create a better spirit for any negotiations that ultimately will come", she said.

Closing the meeting, UK prime minister Tony Blair reinforced the same message. Immediate talk of greenhouse gas targets make people "get very nervous and very worried", he said. The dialogue, in contrast, was intended to "develop the right partnership" so that, "further down the line" the world can develop "the right framework beyond 2012".

Tuesday's discussions had already "set the scene for constructive discussions" at the next conference of parties to the UN climate change convention and its Kyoto protocol in December, the UK environment ministry said after the meeting.

In a set of chairman's conclusions, the government identified creating incentives for private sector investment in cleaner technologies as a key challenge, including what it called "long, loud and legal frameworks". Mexico is to host another meeting in the series next year.

OUR COMMENT: A few days ago the left wing think tank IPPR published an assessment of the UK's progress in meeting the promises made by the government's manifesto commitment. Using the DTI's updated emissions projections published in November 2004, which forecast a 6% shortfall by 2010, corresponding to excess emissions of about 10 million tonnes of carbon equivalent (10MtCe), they analysed progress in all sections of the economy. They have produced a programme for a realistic and practical further cutting of CO2 emissions which would save this 10MtCe by 2010. While the target of 20% reduction may be higher than the actual Kyoto target of a 12.5% cut in greenhouse gases, they point out the need to both maintain an election promise and also to give leadership to other western countries. They also urge that aircraft and shipping emissions are included in the cuts, initially through their inclusion in the EU carbon emissions trading scheme. The report is full of relevant statistics and helpful information, including the fuel consumption of a wide range of cars, especially gas guzzlers, which may even be marginally better than your luxury Audi A8 or sports Audi TT.

Climate Commitment. Meeting the UK's 2010 CO2 emissions target. Tony Grayling, Tim Lawrence and Tim Gibbs - Institute for Public Policy Research

Pat Dale

6 November 2005


Sweden takes aim at fossil fuel-free future

Environment Daily 1973 - 2 November 2005

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson is to head a working group studying a proposed phase-out of fossil fuels in the country by 2020, Dagens Nyheter newspaper reports. 2020 is already Sweden's target date for achieving full environmental sustainability.

The project will involve forging a consensus among regional authorities, agriculture and industry, Mr Persson told a press conference on Tuesday. "The commission will take the initiative... and perhaps carry out pilot projects", he added.

Mr Persson's announcement follows a recent proposal by Social Democratic MPs to the Nordic Council of Ministers calling for the creation of a regional common market in alternatives to fossil fuels, possibly modelled on the existing Nord Pool electricity exchange.

Swedish MP Sinikka Bohlin, a member of the Nordic Council environment committee, said in a statement: "We have to try and convert our whole production apparatus and... remove barriers to cross-border freedom of movement when building and extending power plants and distributing alternative fuels."

Fossil fuels currently account for about 35% of Sweden's energy supply, making Sweden, with Iceland, one of only two OECD countries deriving less than 50% of their total energy from this source. In 1970, oil accounted for 98% of the energy used in the Swedish district heating systems; today, it accounts for only 8% in district heating and 30% of the total energy supply.

6 November 2005


Aviation and the Environment - State of Play

Conference hosted by The Royal Aeronautical Society - 2 November 2005

In 1999 the Society set up a group – "Air Travel – Greener by Design" to meet the challenge that the environment poses the aviation community and to find solutions. It includes representatives from all sections of the aviation community and has already held a number of conferences. The meeting was opened by Elliott Morley, Minister of State for Climate Change and the Environment, DEFRA.

He reiterated the usual government line about needing to meet the projected 4% annual increase, which included many people wanting to travel and see the world, and such opportunities should not be denied. However he agreed that aviation must be sustainable (without defining the concept of sustainability) and dwelt on certain key areas, notably climate change and air quality, especially at Heathrow, as well as aircraft noise. There was much to be done and the inclusion of aviation in the EU carbon emissions scheme had been prioritised. It might not be enough. The industry had set a target of 50% reduction in CO2 by 2030 and 80% reduction in NOX. New standards had been set by ICAO for NOX engine emissions in new planes.

He accepted that an expansion of air traffic was a sensitive public issue for those who lived around airports and who were concerned about climate change. In answer to a question about the possibility of fuel charges he admitted that the public were asking why aviation was being let off the fuel tax. He also disagreed with the questioner who considered that the airport passenger duty was the equivalent of a fuel tax. He made the point that it was not in anyway related to the amount of fuel used and the environmental damage caused by burning the fuel. Comment. Unfortunately the DfT is not so knowledgeable about these problems as DEFRA.

The government's record was also praised by the Head of the Aviation Environmental Division at the DfT, Martin Capstick. These included the review of the Night Noise regime, including the ban on QC4 planes and the introduction of a new band, QC2.5, recommended noise abatement procedures (there was much emphasis on CDAs by all speakers), noise insulation schemes, preparation for entering the EU emissions trading scheme, and legislation on airports, allowing for the introduction of noise abatement policies and emissions charging, as well as a programme of work designed to improve the conditions round Heathrow presumably so that a third runway could be added. - A very mixed bag of alleged "improvements".

The other view of the picture was presented by Peter Ainsworth MP, chair of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. He emphasised that technological improvements were not going to be put into practice without regulation. Voluntary action could not be relied on. The threat of climate change was such that the Precautionary Principle must come into operation. The DfT was operating entirely on the Predict and Provide principle, The original forecasts of 4% increase a year in air traffic should have been challenged, How many more people are going to fly? What effects will oil price rises have?

There should be a review of the White Paper with a full investigation of the effects of oil prices and the future of tourism, and above all, the effects on the environment, notably climate change. Can the optimistic technical forecasts be met within the next 15-20 years? He finished by asking all concerned to ask themselves what they would say to their children and grandchildren if the worst effects of climate change were not avoided - "What did you do to stop climate change?"

There were also differences of opinion amongst the aviation experts. John Green, a member of the Greener by Design Group, had calculated a time schedule for the introduction of all the present available or likely to be available engine and frame improvements, together with dates that new planes could be introduced and old ones were likely to be scrapped. He also assumed that operational improvements would be maximised and that the ATM network would be able to advise all flights on how to avoid the creation of contrails (by varying the flying height ) and so also of additional cirrhus clouds.

The result would be that the fall in the degree of radiative forcing would be such that overall, by 2065 there would be no additional carbon (equivalent) emissions from the predicted increase in air traffic, the level would be approximately the same as today's and so there would be no further adverse effects on climate change.

However, he ignored the fact that none of these new technological improvements would appear in service before 2010 and most not before 2020 or even 2025, Action was needed now, future remedies would be too late. The view of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution was put forward, - that the emission reduction targets could not be met just by the introduction of the suggested technologies even though the targets had been adopted by the aviation industry group.

Their representative, Mike Steedon, described how a considerable number of operators, airlines, airports and manufacturers, had joined together to promote the development of sustainable aviation with targets of reducing emissions by 2020, CO2 by 50% and NOX by 80%.

(Unfortunately some low cost carriers have not joined, neither does Boeing appear to have associated itself with the same ambitions.)

Several other topics were discussed, such as the role of offsets, putting a cost value on aviation's environmental effects, and the setting up of the EU carbon trading scheme. It was clear that much has been achieved and that amongst the aviation industry there is a realisation that climate change has to be addressed. At the same time too much reliance is being placed on the ability of voluntary action to deal with what will be a very fundamental change in aircraft design and operations within a time scale that would help to reduce the impact of severe climate change.

Peter Ainsworth's insistence of the need to take all precautions now is the sensible and essential approach. This inevitably means that any airport expansion must be postponed until the dangers are avoided and the remedies are actually definitely available and practicable.

6 November 2005


All together for talk of the east

Shaun Lowthorpe - News 24 Online - 2 November 2005

Day One of the Examination in Public (EiP) of the East of England Plan and already participants are already jostling for position. Squashed around the table in the auditorium of the Maltings in Ely a couple of dozen souls from Government civil servants, environmental pressure groups, house builders, business leaders, and religious groups are all ready for their turn to put their case to the 'judges'.

It's a varied cast - perhaps it should be better described as the X-Factor, with panel chairman Alan Richardson running the show - and during the course of the day he proves he is not averse to the quick quip and (gentle) put-down. One by one we move around the table as participants state their cases.

All right, it wasn't quite as racy as your average reality TV show - but watch closely and you could see the subtle jockeying of position. Evidence will be heard from those who feel that it goes too far as well as those who don't feel what's proposed goes far enough.

At the end of that process, in around four months' time, the panel will make its recommendations and the final version gets passed to the Deputy Prime Minister for approval. Yesterday participants were setting out their stalls.

In addition to the squabbling between the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) and Whitehall over housing numbers and funding, the third big argument set to loom large was the pressure all of the proposed development would have on our environment.

First up Brian Stewart, chief executive of the EERA, which has drafted a plan it already feels is bursting at the limits of what is achievable. That will see 478,000 new homes, 421,000 new jobs plus demands for new roads, better public transport links, improved water supplies, and proposals for improving skills and training. Those proposals are now going to be put to the sword by the panel during the 13-week hearing.

But, here's the back-story - assembly members have suspended their support for the plan until they get the cash needed to provide the infrastructure to make it work, largely in anger at moves to downgrade schemes such as dualling the A11 and A47.

Mr Stewart took aim and fired his shots at the Government - and that meant two civil servants sitting opposite - for failing to provide the money EERA members want.

"EERA will continue to argue the merits of the plan through the EiP and to demonstrate the soundness of the proposals, on the strictly conditional basis of infrastructure provision." "But we do not want to pander to unfettered, runaway development," he said. "We want the essential character of the East of England to be retained as far as possible." Mr Richardson looked puzzled.

"What sort of commitment is EERA actually looking for from the Government," he asked. "Is it in the form of money or a more open-ended commitment?"

"We are looking for both," Mr Stewart replied. "We feel we have kept our side of the bargain that has delivered a plan that sees a step-change in numbers (of housing), but we haven't seen a step-change to support that."

John Dowie, director of development at Go-East - EERA's villain of the piece - said the region had moved "beyond its comfort zone" in producing the plan. But he suggested things might be about to get a little less comfortable because latest predictions showed a need for 512,000 houses.

He dodged the issue of making guarantees about money and he didn't sound hopeful on the roads question either. Intriguingly, he warned of the dangers of falling into a "policy soup".

"The issue for this panel is whether the strategy goes far enough in some areas," he said. "We can't build our way out of the problems we find on our road network."

"Nor can the panel make long-term assumptions about Government funding. The panel needs to plan for an uncertain future. The region needs a strategic route map for the future."

A range of groups, including the Environment Agency, English Nature, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and Friends of the Earth spoke on the issue.

Top of the list of concerns was the increased demand on water supplies, the dangers of increased flooding and the effect that the proposed development would have on climate change.

Space yesterday was limited and there was a live TV feed into an adjoining room, while outside some protesters had made it from Norfolk to demonstrate against plans for a proposed Norwich northern bypass. But there was a calmness and courtesy that belied the controversy underpinning the discussion.

For day one only, EERA even supplied a sandwich buffet for lunch for those attending - though the panel were quick to point out they had made their own arrangements. But it was made clear that the free lunch was a one-off. And you can expect such niceties to evaporate as the debate proceeds and things really heat up.

Roads: While provision to improve the A11, A47 and the building of a Norwich northern bypass are all included, the main focus is likely to be on where roads are under stress. This includes the M1 between Luton and Hemel Hempstead, the A14 near Cambridge and the A12 near Chelmsford. Supports ways of shifting people into greater public transport use such as restricting parking use. Is also looking at area-wide road user charging.

Airports: Welcomes developments of regional airports, particularly Norwich International and Southend. Opposed to a second runway at Stansted.

Rail: Supports better east-west rail transport links and greater use of freight trains. Concerned at the lack of investment in rail infrastructure in the region.

Jobs: Seeks to create 421,000 new jobs. That would see 32,700 in and around Norwich plus Yarmouth and Lowestoft. A further 9900 would go to King's Lynn sub-region and the rest of Norfolk.

Water: The plan notes the "substantial concern" that resources will not be able to cope with the anticipated growth. Seeks to press the Environment Agency and water companies for better water efficiency.

Homes: The East of England Regional Assembly wants to see 478,000 new homes built in the region up to 2021. Of those, 72,600 are earmarked for Norfolk, shared among the following districts: Breckland - 15,200; Broadland - 12,200; Yarmouth - 6000; King's Lynn and West Norfolk - 11,000; North Norfolk - 6400; Norwich - 10,600; South Norfolk - 11,200

1 November 2005


International unity on the way ahead is a must this time,
says the Prime Minister

Tony Blair - The Observer - 30 October 2005

This week is a potentially crucial week in the fight against climate change. On Tuesday, the UK hosts the first meeting under the new Gleneagles dialogue between the G8 and China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. I want to explain why this is important and why I believe the difficulties with the current climate change debate is the trouble with so much international politics: a reluctance to face up to reality and the practical action needed to tackle problems.

We know climate change is a major threat. And worries over security of energy supply and rising oil prices are pushing energy policy to the top of the agenda. But we must understand that neither issue can realistically be dealt with unless the US, the EU, Russia, Japan, China and India work together.

We also have to recognise that while the Kyoto Protocol takes us in the right direction, it is not enough. We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions radically but Kyoto doesn't even stabilise them. It won't work as intended, either, unless the US is part of it. It's easy to take frustrations out on the Bush Administration but people forget that the Senate voted 95-0 against Kyoto when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

We have to understand as well that, even if the US did sign up to Kyoto, it wouldn't affect the huge growth in energy consumption we will see in India and China. China is building close to a new power station every week. They need economic growth to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty but want to grow sustainably. We have to find a way, as a start, to help them.

Emissions trading is going well in Europe even if it is not finding it easy to meet Kyoto targets. And, of course, the first Kyoto commitment period ends in 2012. The challenge is what will come next. Will it be another round of division or what we need: a sound, rational, science-based unity, which ensures the right legally-binding framework to incentivise sustainable development?

There are huge opportunities in environmental technology and huge possibilities in sustainable development, if the right framework for low carbon energy generation can be stimulated. But none of this is going to happen unless the major developed and emerging nations sit down together and work it out, in a way that allows us all to grow, imposes no competitive disadvantage and enables the transfer of the technology needed for sustainable growth to take place.

That's the scale of the challenge - a challenge the Prince of Wales valuably raised again last week. But the mood is also changing. The scientific evidence is becoming more certain. Vicious climate disasters heighten public concern, whatever the precise link. In the US many states and much of industry wants a lead, and recent Senate votes are beginning to reflect this. China and India know that to be polluters in a world more and more sensitised to the environment is not smart and has impact on their people.

That's why Tuesday's meeting matters. It will focus on what is needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy. We need to see how the existing energy technologies we have such as wind, solar and - yes - nuclear, together with new technologies such as fuel cells and carbon capture and storage, can generate the low carbon power the world needs.

In the UK we have already been able to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly and remain on track to meet our target under the Kyoto Protocol. We will soon be taking further action to achieve our domestic goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. One policy being considered is the increased use of biofuels, already well developed in Brazil and the US. If we can achieve just 5 per cent of fuel from renewable sources by 2010 that has the potential to take more than one megatonne of carbon.

It is one of the new technologies we need to help tackle climate change. We need to create the right market conditions to increase the necessary investment to develop and install new low carbon energy generation - and to ensure it is shared with emerging economies. Chinese and Indian economic growth will be powered to a large degree by coal, which is both relatively cheap and readily available. This could be a relentless driver of global warming. But by developing and sharing new technologies for coal we can minimise its impact.

It is a modest but significant start that the EU has already agreed to work with China to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions. These talks are going well and we hope the first project will be underway in the New Year.

I believe Tuesday's meeting has an additional importance. The fact that we are meeting - and talking - in London about the challenges of climate change will also help create the conditions needed for us to look beyond 2012. This is the purpose of the UN process starting in Montreal next month. Whatever doubts and frustrations there might be about Kyoto and the difficulties ahead, Montreal is significant as it is the only forum in which formal negotiations on future international commitments take place.

At the beginning of the UK's presidency, I promised that Africa and climate change would be our main priorities. No one sensibly expected that we could solve these global problems overnight. They had every right, however, to expect solid progress towards solutions. I believe that progress is underway. It's good news, too, that both Russia and Japan have already made clear that they will take forward the work we began at Gleneagles during their G8 presidencies.

Climate change will only be addressed through both technological development and a robust, inclusive and binding international treaty. We are working hard to achieve both. This year has seen an unprecedented profile and attention given to climate change. Perhaps not the political theatre some would have wished for but, more importantly, clear and steady steps towards a more sustainable world. Through the G8 dialogue on Tuesday and the UN meeting in Montreal next month, we are starting to build the foundations of the genuinely global response we need.

OUR COMMENT: "A reluctance to face up to reality and the practical action needed to tackle problems"? Surely Tony Blair was talking about himself? What happened to the promises of last year and the year before? The good work initiated in renewables and energy conservation has been in danger of getting lost in the dreams of technological fixes. Transport pollution soars, notably from aviation, and is ignored. Will he now offer controls on the west's expanding aviation traffic so that the developing nations can utilise air transport where it is needed far more than in Europe?

Pat Dale

1 November 2005


1st November - The start of the Inquiry into the
draft Plan for the East of England
Government agencies attack key Labour strategy
Housing "would threaten environment", says report

Juliette Jowit, Environment Editor - The Observer - 30 October 2005

Plans to build millions of homes across the UK have been thrown into doubt after damning criticism by two key government agencies. The revelations strike at the heart of Labour's plans to solve Britain's housing crisis by building homes on swaths of wild countryside and will be acutely embarrassing for ministers.

More than 4 million new homes are to be built across the nation. One project in the east of England - involving the construction of 500,000 homes - is regarded as the flagship project. But the Countryside Agency and English Nature will warn in a joint report this week that the east of England plan poses "serious risk" of damage to "nationally important landscapes and habitats".

The scheme would cause "significant harm" because it would degrade the character of the English landscape, fragment natural habitats, and require water supplies that would have an unsustainable impact on the environment. The report is a serious blow to the credibility of the government's promise to provide affordable housing.

The two agencies comprehensively condemn Labour's Sustainable Communities Plan and other national policy on which the regional development strategies are based. The government's approach is "contrary to the concept of sustainability", they state.

"It seems it [the government] is not altogether serious about sustainable development and protecting the environment because it seems to think it can just plan and then pick up the pieces. The consequences are likely to be serious degradation of the quality of the environment and quality of life of people in the region," said Henry Oliver of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

However the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister defended its policy. "The pressure for new homes is not caused by the government but by an aging and growing population and more people living alone," said a spokesman. "Over the last 30 years we have seen a 30 per cent increase in the number of new households but a 50 per cent drop in the number of new homes being built. This is not sustainable development."

The report will be given to the official inquiry into the east of England plans, set out in the regional spatial strategy (RSS), which opens on Tuesday. The plan, the biggest and the first to go to a full inquiry, proposes nearly half a million new homes, new industrial and business space and 67 road schemes.

Nationally the government's plans have been criticised for over-estimating the scale of building needed, concentrating too much development in the already crowded south east of England, and not insisting on tough enough environmental standards, such as low-energy design. The Labour-dominated Environmental Audit Committee has also warned the environmental impacts "deserve much greater consideration".

In the latest report, the two government agencies, which are soon to merge, acknowledge "a need to consider and accommodate development" and praise some aspects of the strategy "which are commendable and are to be supported". However they say there is an "absence of evidence" that the plans will not damage "core environmental assets" and that the independent sustainability appraisal warned of "significant harm" to landscape, habitats, and water.

"Coming to a 'balance' implies trade-offs between competing objectives where it may be accepted that loss of one component will be necessary in order to achieve success within another," says the report. Later it adds: "Under proposed growth targets the ultimate effect of the RSS may not [authors' italics] be to ensure a more sustainable future for the region. Such an outcome would be contrary to the statutory purpose of the planning system... Furthermore the agencies consider that some of the underpinning foundations of the plan do not afford sufficient regard or status to environmental and quality of life matters, and subsequently set an inappropriate context on which the strategy builds."

The report instead calls for regions to assess how much growth their environment can cope with, then plan measures to mitigate "justified" damage.

"We're not saying we don't want development," said Graham Smith, an area manager for English Nature. "We may need to adjust the rate at which we seek to do things in order that we don't sacrifice one objective at the altar of another."

The panel of independent planning inspectors, appointed by the government, will report to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is expected to publish any changes next year, with a final report due in 2007.

OUR COMMENT: The draft Plan accepts the maximum development of Stansted's present Runway but does not include Runway 2. It says that there is insufficient information on the effects of another runway. The situation would be reviewed at the time of the first Plan Review. The acceptance of the maximum use of Runway 1 will be challenged by a number of organisations and a few other groups, mainly developers and some business interests will object to the failure to include Runway 2. EERA (Eastern Regional Assembly) has withdrawn approval from its own Plan, unless the government guarantees that money will be available for the necessary infrastructure. Considerable pressure was exercised by the government to persuade EERA to agree to include thousands of additional houses in the Plan, 18,000 were refused, and this refusal will also be objected to at the inquiry.

Pat Dale

1 November 2005


Ryanair Welcomes Luton Airport Expansion Plans

Press Release by Ryanair - 28 October 2005

Ryanair, Europe's largest International Airline, today (Friday, 28th October 2005) welcomed the announcement by Luton Airport of its plans to develop a second runway and two additional terminals to allow the airport to triple passenger numbers to 30 million a year by 2020. Ryanair supports the development of low cost airport facilities in the south east, and will work closely with Luton International Airport to help it achieve these exciting plans for growing passenger numbers, jobs and investment in the Luton and Bedfordshire region.

Ryanair said that the Luton plans highlighted yet again the exorbitant waste by the BAA airport monopoly at Stansted where similar facilities are being planned but at a cost of £4 billion, more than double the Luton budget.

Ryanair has always supported a low cost second runway at Stansted, but opposes (with the support of all other Stansted Airport users) the profligate waste on over specified facilities proposed by the BAA monopoly as it tries to maximize capital expenditure in order to jack up charges to the airlines and to passengers for the next 20 years. Ryanair has consistently campaigned for a low cost second runway and second terminal at Stansted to mirror the low cost nature of the passenger traffic using Stansted Airport.

Welcoming this week's development plans by Luton Airport, Ryanair's Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary, said:

"This week's developments at Luton highlight again the benefit of airport competition in the south east. The fact that a privately owned company can deliver a second runway and two additional terminals at a cost of £1.5 billion proves yet again that the airline users at Stansted are correct in their unanimous opposition to the profligate waste by the BAA who are budgeting to spend £4 billion building similar facilities at Stansted."

"The problem with BAA airports in the London region is that they operate as an effective monopoly where the regulator (the CAA) has long failed to provide effective regulation in the reasonable interest of users. The fact that the BAA at Stansted plans to spend 4 times what is necessary for the development of a second runway and second terminal, and yet is looking to the regulator to start increasing charges to the airlines and the passengers some five years before these facilities are put in place highlights the urgent need for the break up of the BAA airport monopoly."

"Ryanair believes that air transport in the south east would benefit from the freeing up of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted to compete against each other, as this would lead to the development of efficient low cost facilities and a low cost airport environment to promote low fare air travel to and from London and the south east. What we have at the moment is a high cost airport monopoly in Stansted and an ineffective regulator allowing it to develop over specified and over priced Taj Mahals".

OUR COMMENT: High cost facilities at Stansted? Does Ryanair expect to get cut price services everywhere? Competition that forces down charges to rock bottom prices ends up by creating rock bottom, often unsafe, services.

Pat Dale

1 November 2005

(and the price still does not include
the environmental costs of your flight)

Newquay fee "ended Europe plans"
Ryanair says 100,000 fewer people will come to Cornwall

BBC News - 28 October 2005

An airline says it might have started flying direct from Cornwall to Barcelona, if a surcharge for departing passengers had not been introduced.

Ryanair has objected to the £5 surcharge imposed at Newquay airport by Cornwall County Council to help reduce a deficit of more than £1m a year. The so-called airport development fee which begins on Saturday is the first to be introduced at a UK airport. The county council said it had received no such offer.

Flights dropped

Ryanair, which fears other UK airports will follow Newquay's example, said it had tried to persuade the county council not to bring in the surcharge. The airline is halving the number of winter flights out of Newquay next month from two to one in protest at the surcharge and has threatened to pull out altogether.

Deputy CEO Michael Cawley told BBC News the firm had promised new routes, including Newquay-Barcelona and possibly a route to Italy. Newquay passengers will pay the surcharge at new ticket machines. He said that more passengers would have meant more revenue, but the surcharge will mean fewer passengers.

He said: "We would have gone from Newquay directly to continental Europe. We've been working with the county council and our suggestion was to increase the number of passengers. The airport costs will be there whether they have a million passengers or none."

Andrew Mitchell, the county councillor who chairs the committee responsible for Newquay airport, said he had not heard of any such offer from Ryanair, despite having conversations with Ryanair bosses.

The airport's financial situation is expected to become more acute after the MoD mothballs the adjacent St Mawgan airfield, which helps pay for some of Newquay's running costs, next year. Engineers at Newquay are carrying out final checks for the introduction of the surcharge.

OUR COMMENT: The £5 might be better spent on improving the rail service. However the principle remains - aviation must pay its full costs, both in providing good, safe services and in covering the environmental costs.

Pat Dale

1 November 2005


Some of the Environmental Costs of housing and vehicle traffic. Aviation emissions resulting from a local airport have not been included.

David Hopkins - News Environment - 28 October 2005

Local authorities are being urged to develop emissions reductions strategies as new figures have revealed the levels of emissions produced in each area across the UK. Defra has, for the first time, estimated the level of local household, traffic and industrial carbon dioxide emissions, reallocating emissions from power stations to where the electricity is actually used in people's homes and businesses.

The figures show that in nearly half of all local authorities the domestic sector generates more emissions than industry, commerce and the public sector. However, the rate of emissions from this sector can vary substantially between areas due to a range of factors such as availability of different fuels, climate, relative wealth and housing type, as well as energy efficiency.

"We need to be cautious about the accuracy of these figures," said Elliot Morley, Minister for the Environment. "They should be read on the basis of giving us broad indication and they will need to be refined over time. However, we know the average household can save up to £250 a year by being more energy efficient, the equivalent of two tonnes a year of carbon dioxide; but it's not just about saving money, it's also about saving the environment."

He added that many local authorities were already doing good work on energy efficiency and climate change but that the new figures would help them do more. The new data has led many to call on the government to set fixed targets for local authorities to reduce emissions.

Norman Baker MP, Lib-Dem Shadow Environment Secretary, said: "Action at local level can only successfully deliver emissions cuts with leadership from national Government. As a country we are going backwards not forwards in meeting our carbon and greenhouse gas targets. The government cannot expect local authorities to cut their emissions levels without leadership from the centre."

Think-tank the IPPR proposed a package of measures to cut emissions including council tax rebates to encourage households to take up energy savings measures like insulation, and Friends of the Earth said that the UK should set a legal framework to cut emissions by three percent year-on-year.

Friends of the Earth's climate campaigner, Martyn Williams said: "The UK Government's climate strategy is failing, and carbon dioxide emissions are rising instead of falling. The Government must get its strategy back on track and introduce a legal framework to ensure that UK carbon dioxide emissions are cut by three per cent every year."

"But the Chancellor can start cutting emissions immediately if he introduces incentives in his pre-budget statement which make it easier and cheaper for people to take action, including measures to encourage energy saving in the home and promote more fuel-efficient motoring."

"Regional Assemblies and local authorities must wake up to threat of global warming. They should set targets for cutting emissions and ensure that their strategies help them achieve it. This must include ensuring that all new housing developments are carbon neutral."

1 November 2005


EU states tardy on carbon market linking law

Environment Daily 1972 - 28 October 2005

Barely a fortnight ahead of the deadline for EU member states to implement a key change to the directive behind the bloc's greenhouse gas emission trading scheme, only four have notified the European Commission of national legislation, Environment Daily has learned.

Belgium, Denmark, Spain and Poland are the only countries to have signalled transposition of the 'linking directive', which was approved by EU institutions last year and must be implemented by 13 November The law will allow firms in the trading scheme (ETS) to buy extra allowances abroad to meet their emission caps.

"I find it surprising that no more have implemented this yet," a Commission official told Environment Daily on Friday. "After all, it's something that was designed to help industry". The law was hurried through the EU's legislative machinery in an effort to soothe firms worried at the prospect of falling short of ETS allowances.

The linking directive gives companies the right to obtain allowances additional to those handed out from governments by investing in emission-cutting projects abroad. These projects are administered through the Kyoto protocol's flexible mechanisms, the clean development mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation (JI).

One possible reason for the transposition delay is the slow progress made by the CDM executive board in approving projects that yield credits for firms to buy. The Commission estimates that the first credits available for use in the ETS will materialise only in the second half of next year. The law will be redundant until then.

After the implementation deadline passes the Commission will begin checking whether national laws comply with the directive. A key requirement is for them to stipulate that national allocation plans (NAPs) put a percentage cap on the number of CDM and JI credits that firms can use to meet their targets.

But the clause will only be tested in practice next June, when member states have to present NAPs for the second phase of the ETS starting in 2008. The percentage caps will have to ensure that emission cuts bought outside EU remain "supplemental" to domestic emission-cutting action – a requirement of the Kyoto protocol. The Commission is to give guidance on interpreting this provision in new ETS guidelines due before the end of the year.

According to analyst Point Carbon, Italy this week said it would be spending over €2bn to buy "at least 40%" of its required emission reductions under Kyoto on international carbon markets. The Italian government was one of the linking directive's strongest backers.

Point Carbon also reports that the UK and Austria last week dropped plans to restrict project eligibility in the linking directive to just those schemes which reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Instead all Kyoto-covered gases, such as HFCs, will be eligible. Slovakia, meanwhile, is to prevent its firms from using any outside credits at all.

OUR COMMENT: What about the UK?

Pat Dale

29 October 2005


'Horror in the skies'

Editorial - The Comet, Herts - 27 October 2005

The proposed runway for the Luton Airport expansion

FURIOUS campaigners have slammed this week's news of Luton Airport's proposed expansion as a "horror story of noise in the skies and congestion on the ground" for thousands of Hertfordshire people.

The future for Luton Airport has been outlined in a draft master plan, bringing the likely expansion a step closer. The controversial plans may see the airport double in size and eat into Green Belt land, increasing noise pollution and road congestion.

London Luton Airport is expected to handle an estimated 30 million annual air passengers by 2030, a figure four times greater than that of 2004 when 7.5 million people used the airport. London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) manages the site and has drawn up the draft master plan to outline construction work that it believes will meet Government targets and best serve the airport in the future.

Out of a possible four options, LLAOL have settled on a runway proposal that requires the largest amount of land. Over 340 hectares of Green Belt would be lost. A new 3km runway, situated almost 1km south of the existing one and extending a further 330 metres to the east is proposed, alongside a second terminal. The result would be a new airport stretching south into the countryside that will be twice as big as the current site, handling millions more passengers.

Many Stevenage residents already live under Luton Airport's flight path. A longer runway that can handle jumbo jets means even more houses in the town will suffer the effects of over 50dB of aircraft noise.

Hertfordshire looks set to become squashed between two encroaching mega-airports, with Stansted to the east and an expanding Luton to the west, with building work planned to start as soon as 2006.

County councillor Derrick Ashley, executive member for strategic planning and partnerships in Hertfordshire, said: "We will need to examine closely how infrastructure would cope with an additional 20 million passengers a year travelling to and from the airport."

"A new 3000-metre runway plus a new terminal... will have devastating effects on the surrounding countryside and villages."

Campaign group LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) are in disbelief at the plans put forward in the draft master plan. Committee member Roger Wood said: "Is this a joke?"

"The Government said in its Air Transport White Paper that it would accept a new replacement runway at Luton, broadly on the current alignment."

"So the Airport company announce plans for an additional new one more than half a mile into the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire countryside."

LADACAN want all those affected to make a stand.

While the draft master plan is not a planning application and does not give LLAOL permission to start building, it does give strong indications of what lies ahead.

The next stage is to present the final master plan to the Government early in 2006. Until then residents have a 12-week period in which to voice their concerns. Herts County Council and LADACAN are strongly urging everyone to make their views known. This can be done by attending the proposed exhibitions or writing to London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, Navigation House, Luton LU2 9LY.

MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, Peter Lilley, described this as a grim week for the area's environment, he said: "I believe Luton should remain a medium size airport, with a medium-size runway, for medium haul planes increasing in size only if quieter planes could offset greater numbers and if additional infrastructure could cope with the extra passengers."

Barbara Follett MP was unavailable for comment.

29 October 2005


East of England's contribution to global warming set to soar

Press Release - Friends of the Earth - 28 October 2005

Greenhouse gas emissions will soar across the East of England unless the Regional Assembly amends its plan to promote large scale and rapid growth, Friends of the Earth East of England warned today. The warning comes as the Examination in Public of the East of England Plan opens in Ely today (Tuesday, 1 November)

In its East of England Plan the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) proposes a large and rapid increase in the region's population, housing, road-use and air travel with far reaching effects for the region's look, feel, character and environmental quality. As part of The Big Ask campaign, Friends of the Earth East of England is calling on EERA to set a target to reduce the region's contribution to global warming, and to ensure that this is central to the Assembly's Plan and every other regional policy.

Friends of the Earth East of England says that if people, households and businesses across the region are to play their part in tackling climate change, the Assembly must produce consistent policy measures and apply these to all parts of society. The only high level regional statutory policy mechanism which can deliver carbon dioxide cuts across the region is the Assembly's Plan

But the East of England Plan currently fails to address climate change. The Plan contains no policy on climate change, no target for carbon dioxide reductions from the region and no action plan for how to reduce greenhouse gases in line with the Government target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% of the 1990 level by 2050. The Plan's main climate change concern is adaptation to its effects rather than working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Friends of the Earth's East of England Campaigns Coordinator Mary Edwards said:

"Unless it is changed, the East of England Plan will lead to a huge increase in the region's contribution to dangerous climate change, with large and rapid increases in housing, car journeys and air travel. The Regional Assembly must take climate change seriously, set a target for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, and ensure that all its policies, especially the East of England Plan, help the region to achieve this."

"Climate change is the biggest threat facing humankind. The Government has a target for cutting UK carbon dioxide levels by 60 per cent by 2050. Hitting this target should be central to the Regional Assembly's every policy."

"So far the Regional Assembly has been forced by Government to accommodate damaging demands for more housing and the expansion of Stansted airport within its Plan. But no matter how hard it tries to pretend otherwise, this is simply not sustainable. The Assembly should amend its Plan and tell Ministers that their current housing and aviation policies completely undermine their own promises to tackle climate change."

An independent assessment of the draft East of England Plan has reported that the rate and level of the proposed growth is problematic This report says:

"The basic challenge underlying the whole RSS is that the rate and intensity of economic and housing development which the region faces is intrinsically damaging to the environment and threatening to many aspects of quality of life.

The assessment adds:

"The sustainability appraisal of the Options Consultation stage of the RPG concluded that 'airport expansion will be highly damaging to the environment and quality of life'. No subsequent events or information have given us any reason to change this assessment." (SA/SEA, 2004, p.73).

Friends of the Earth East of England will be at the hearings to show how the Plan is forcing damaging development in the region which will worsen the region's environment and prevent the Government from meeting its own targets to reduce greenhouse gases in the UK and other policy aims on climate change, sustainability and living within environmental limits.

Friends of the Earth is campaigning for a new law obliging the Government to make year-on-year reductions in UK carbon dioxide emissions. A strategy to tackle emissions from transport must be part of this. More information: www.thebigask.com

The East of England Plan is the East of England Regional Assembly's (EERA) draft Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). The public hearing, known as an Examination in Public, begins on November 1st, 2005 at the Maltings, Ely and runs until December 16th. There is a Christmas adjournment until January 17th, 2005 when it resumes at the Spirella Centre, Letchworth until March 3rd 2006. The hearings will be held before an independent Panel of Inspectors who will report to the Regional Assembly and Government later in 2006.

The Examination in Public into the Plan is the only opportunity to debate the Plan and question whether it is taking the region in the right direction to ensure human activity in the region does not worsen climate change, air and water quality or increase loss of wildlife species and habitats. Under Government rules, the public does not have a right to appear or be heard at the examination. Attendance is by invitation from the Panel of Inspectors.

The East of England Plan sets out the kind of development which will happen across the region by 2021 affecting every aspect of life in the region from agriculture and transport to coastal policies and the region's economy. In the Plan EERA proposes a rising population, more houses and development pressures such as road building and airport expansion. Specifically, the Plan proposes:

- 478,000 new homes
- a 678,000 rise in population caused in part by inward migration
- 421,500 new jobs
- a lengthy list of potentially damaging new road schemes; and
- expansion of the region's airports including growing Stansted to take 40 million passengers a year (and now Luton has joined in the race to expand)

The Strategic Environmental Assessment and Sustainability Appraisal of the East of England Plan. Is available at: www.eera.gov.uk/category.asp?cat=382.

OUR COMMENT: The recent Government policy statement "Securing the Future" (Defra, March 2005) makes it clear that new developments should not exceed "environmental limits". The DfT are associated with this publication - don't they realise that the Aviation White Paper's policies breach all the good intentions in "Securing the Future"? It can be found on: www.sustainable-development.gov.uk/publications/uk-strategy/uk-strategy-2005.htm

Pat Dale

29 October 2005


Readers' Letters - Saffron Walden Weekly News - 27 October 2005

Sir, In addition to damaging our living environment, Stansted Airport appears also to be monopolising the rail services.

"One" Railway has unveiled its revised timetable to start in December 2005. Of 15 "new timetable highlights" on its leaflet, only one refers to the service north of Stansted, and that merely states "direct services maintained between Kings Lynn and Liverpool Street". In fact, passengers north of Stansted will see longer journey times and more crowded carriages as extra stops have been added, with no new trains or capacity. Funds spent on the new Stansted to Stratford service could have been better spent on improving frequency and capacity of the existing services.

Or perhaps airport owners BAA should be required to fund new Stansted rail services leaving "one" to focus on serving its non-airport customers for once.

Frank Knowles

29 October 2005


Lobby demands night flight limit

Pam Jenner - Saffron Walden Weekly News - 27 October 2005

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) warned the government it was "treading on dangerous ground" during a major rally in Central London on Monday calling for action on night flights.

Norman Mead, deputy chairman of the pressure group, issued a warning to the government and department for Transport: "When you take the path of deceit and betrayal you are taking advantage of the goodwill of ordinary law-abiding people and you are treading on dangerous ground. It is not too late for the government to start behaving responsibly on the night flights issue. Local communities round airports have suffered long enough. Our patience is wearing thin. We need to start seeing across the board reductions in the number of night flights."

The number of night flights at Stansted in the year ending March 31st was 8,502. The DfT proposes continuing with the current quota of 12,000 for the next 6 years. SSE claims that this amounts to a 41% increase.

The lobby group organised the rally at Central Hall, Westminster, in conjunction with campaigners from Heathrow and Gatwick calling for greater night flight restrictions.

Mark Prisk, MP for Hertford and Stortford said: "The government is deaf to reason and we must shout loudly and clearly. Proposals for a 41% increase at Stansted are disgraceful."

Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, told the rally: "The government should make it a priority to ensure that flights reflect the true cost of the damage they cause."

A Department of Transport spokesman said: "We are continuing the current regime for another year, Regarding the next regime the consultation closed on September 16th and no decision has been taken yet. We will be looking at the responses before putting our case to the government in due course."

29 October 2005

All that space and comfort -
All that extra pollution per passenger -
Can it be justified?

Eos Celebrates First Week of Daily Roundtrip Service Between New York and London
with Official Inaugural Flight

PURCHASE, N.Y. - PRNewswire - 25 October 2005

After Months of Anticipation, the First Single-Class, Premium Airline Ushers in a New Era in Transatlantic Business Travel

Eos, the first single-class, premium transatlantic airline, today celebrates its first full week of service between New York JFK and London Stansted airports with its official inaugural flight. The airline features a revolutionary 48 "suite" cabin configuration, providing its guests unparalleled comfort, space and personalized service. The basic unrestricted round trip fare is $6,500, although, Eos is offering a special introductory price of $5,000 round trip until January 3, 2006.

To celebrate the official inaugural flight, ticketed passengers, dignitaries and members of the media have been invited to join Eos management and board members at JFK's Terminal Four for a pre-flight reception toasting the airline's launch.

"Eos offers international business executives a new standard of air travel," said David Spurlock, founder and chief executive officer of Eos. "Our customers have told us that the Eos in-flight experience surpasses private jets for comfort, the ability to work in groups or relax in private."

Unique Sting Promotion

To celebrate its launch and distinctive 48 "suite" cabin configuration, Eos is also unveiling a unique promotion with recording artist Sting. Effective at 8:00 a.m. EDT today (October 25), the first 48 customers who book a round trip ticket through the Eos web site or contact center will be invited with a guest to attend a private benefit concert with Sting in New York City on November 3, 2005.

As the title sponsor and official airline of Eos La Dolce Vita New York, featuring Sting, an exclusive concert and fundraising event, Eos is pleased to extend this offer to its premiere customers. The event includes a champagne reception, three course dinner, a "Money Can't Buy Auction," a 60-minute private concert by Sting and exclusive celebrity-packed after party. The event takes place at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.

The Eos Experience Takes Flight

The Eos experience is rooted in the cabin configuration, innovative seat design and service-oriented attitude. Due to the patented design, flexible configuration and staggered seating, the Eos cabin blends the exclusive feel of a top-tier international first class cabin with the privacy of a corporate jet.

With only 48 seats onboard every Eos plane, each guest enjoys an unprecedented 21 square feet of personal space. This represents 40% more space than traditional top tier business class. The Eos "suite" is designed to enhance the flight experience -- whether the guest is working alone or in groups or relaxing. Each guest suite includes a second companion seat that allows travelers to comfortably meet, work or dine together.

Recognizing each traveller's need to arrive at their destination refreshed, the Eos seat fully reclines into a private, six foot, six inch flat bed and is accented with a cashmere blanket and Tempur-Pedic(R) pillow. In addition, each suite located adjacent to a window has direct floor-level access to the aisle for exceptional comfort and convenience.

In line with Eos' philosophy of providing a superior experience matched with unprecedented space, the airline is partnering with DO & CO International to provide the in-flight meal service. DO & CO has its roots in fine cuisine, and it offers a unique full-service concept with an unparalleled degree of innovation for on-board menus.

The Eos vision is embodied in its philosophy of hiring team members with the passion and energy to deliver an exceptional travel experience. In addition to the airline industry, Eos searched across a variety of consumer service-oriented businesses for a specific service-minded attitude in selecting its staff. Eos has developed and provided customized service training on par with the finest luxury hotels in the world.

JFK to Stansted Offers Exceptional Convenience for Business Travellers

Eos flies from New York JFK's Terminal 4, which recently underwent a $1.4 billion renovation to offer enhanced passenger facilities, consolidated ticketing and baggage operations, improved duty free and retail offerings and upgraded restaurants. JFK is conveniently located fifteen miles by highway from midtown Manhattan.

In the UK, Eos flies from London Stansted, the fastest-growing major airport in Europe. Stansted's state-of-the-art, glass and steel terminal, designed by Sir Norman Foster, provides convenient check-in facilities and an array of retail shops, restaurants and bars. Operated by BAA, the world's leading airport company, Stansted is situated within easy reach of London's Canary Wharf business district and is approximately 36 miles from central London -- a convenient, 45-minute trip via the Stansted Express rail service.

Tickets and additional details are available online at http://www.eosairlines.com. Eastbound flights depart New York JFK at 7:05 p.m. and arrive London Stansted at 7:30 a.m.; westbound flights depart London Stansted at 10:30 a.m. and arrive New York JFK at 1:29 p.m. Beginning January 3, 2006, Eos will offer a second daily flight between New York and London, departing New York JFK at 9:15 p.m., arriving London Stansted at 9:40 a.m.; and departing London Stansted at 4:15 p.m., arriving New York JFK at 7:14 p.m.

About Eos

Founded in March 2003, Eos is a privately held airline focused since inception exclusively on the transatlantic business traveller. Eos brings an innovative approach to the travel industry, transforming the traditional flight environment into a premium, tailored space that provides personalized attention for only 48 travellers. Eos raised $87 million in equity capital, and received initial aircraft lease financing of $100 million from International Lease Financing Corporation. For more information, please call 1.888.357.EOS7 (3677) or visit www.eosairlines.com.

OUR COMMENT: Stansted airport needs long haul flights in order to offer a more reasonable range of services. Not, though a service that deliberately cuts down on seats and puts pampering passengers above the need to reduce pollution. Eight times as much greenhouse gas emissions per passenger as a normal translantic service. The service should qualify for an award: " The most polluting airline crossing the Atlantic". How about it BAA? You have a company target of reducing airport CO2 emissions by 15% below 1990 levels by 2010. All your good work will be undone if you encourage such environmental irresponsibility.

Pat Dale

29 October 2005


Air pollution tied to increased risk of strokes

Anthony J. Brown, MD - "Stroke" - Reuters - 28 October 2005

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Increases in particles polluting the air are associated with an increase in the number of strokes caused by a blood clot in the brain -- but not the type caused by an artery rupture in the brain -- new research shows.

Previous reports have shown a link between air pollution and overall risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events, but the specific effect on stroke risk has not been well studied, lead author Dr. Gregory A. Wellenius, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told Reuters Health.

"Our study is the first large study in the US to address this topic," he said

The researchers evaluated the link between air pollution and stroke among Medicare recipients in nine US cities. Specifically, they analyzed data on 155,503 artery-blockage (ischemic) strokes and 19,314 bleeding (hemorrhagic) strokes recorded as hospital admissions between 1986 and 1999.

As reported in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke, the team found that an increase in particulate air pollution from the lowest to the highest levels raised ischaemic stroke admissions by 1.03 percent on the same day. Further analysis yielded similar results for levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide.

By contrast, the investigators found no association between air pollution and hospital admission for haemorrhagic stroke.

Wellenius cited three possible mechanisms, which alone or in combination might explain how air pollution promotes stroke. "One possibility is through inflammatory effects. The other is through pulmonary reflexes that trigger changes in blood pressure or heart rate." A third possibility is changes in clotting factors that tend to promote more blood clots.

Although the increase in ischaemic stroke risk is small, the number of excess strokes can be high because pollution affects the whole population.

"Taken together with previous reports, the results suggest that reducing exposure to air pollution is likely to reduce the risk of a number of health problems, including heart disease and stroke," Wellenius concluded.

OUR COMMENT: Aviation emissions contain relatively high levels of nitrogen oxides, as well as the other pollutants. Nitrogen dioxide (formed from nitrogen oxides) is also a lung irritant.

Pat Dale

26 October 2005


£1.5bn runway plan to make airport fit for 2012 Olympics

Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 26 October 2005

LUTON airport is planning a new runway and terminal in time for the 2012 Olympics in an expansion that could mean that it leapfrogs Stansted and Gatwick to become Britain's second-biggest airport.

A quarter of a century after being ridiculed in the Campari adverts featuring Lorraine Chase, the airport in Bedfordshire intends to reinvent itself as an international hub.

Under its £1.5 billion plan published yesterday, Luton plans to triple passenger numbers to 30 million a year by 2020. Flights would increase from 200 a day at present to 600 a day by 2020.

The airport, run by the Spanish toll road operator Abertis, expects to submit a planning application late next year for a second runway on farmland 950 metres (3,117ft) south of the existing one.

The new runway would be 3,000 metres long, 800 metres longer than the current runway and able to handle a fully laden Boeing 747 jumbo jet. A new terminal would be sandwiched between the two runways, which would be far enough apart to allow both to be used at the same time for take-offs and landings.

However, Kathryn James, the airport's managing director, said the current plan was to move all flights to the new runway and only use the existing one for emergencies and when the other was undergoing maintenance. She said the new runway could comfortably handle the 35 million passengers planned for 2030.

However, she admitted that if demand for flights continued to grow sharply, the original runway could be brought back into full use.

She said only 15 homes would have to be demolished. to make way for the runway. It would have far less impact on surrounding communities than the new runways planned by BAA for Heathrow and Stansted, which would require the demolition of 700 and 100 homes respectively. Luton is also planning to open its new runway by the end of 2011, at least two years before Stansted could open its second runway and five years before Heathrow could open its third.

The Stop Stansted Expansion campaign last night voiced hope that the growth of Luton would make it less likely that Stansted was expanded.**

Both airports primarily serve the budget airline market and they are only 25 miles apart.

BAA has been attacked by its leading customer, Ryanair, for planning to spend £4 billion on a new runway and terminal at Stansted. Luton plans to spend less than half that sum.

ClearSkies, which campaigns against the environmental impact of aircraft, said Luton was trying to become a two-runway airport by stealth.

John Stewart, its chairman, said: "They are sneaking it in by calling it a replacement runway. Residents under flight paths have learnt from bitter experience not to believe the promises made by airports. It is inevitable that Luton will eventually seek to exploit the full capacity of both runways, with passenger numbers rising to 60 million a year, the same as Heathrow handles today."

Luton's plan also includes a two-mile monorail linking the terminals with Luton Airport Parkway train station. While preparing for the new runway, the airport intends to continue expanding by extending its existing terminal, lengthening the taxiway that runs parallel to the runway and building a new car park. A planning application for these additions will be submitted early next year.

The Government White Paper on airports, published two years ago, did not support a second runway at Luton but approved a single 3,000-metre runway capable of handling 30 million passengers a year.

Ms James said the company had decided in favour of a replacement runway because the alternative was to extend the existing one, which would involve moving a hill.

She said that Luton was not currently planning to accommodate the double-deck A380 superjumbo, even though the runway would be long enough. "But we would never say never," she added.

Luton Borough Council, which owns the airport and leases to Abertis, is supporting the expansion because it believes that it would attract more jobs in an area blighted by the closure of the Vauxhall car factory.

** This statement is mis-reported. What was said referred to the likely difficulties in finding investors to fund expansion in two airports so near to each other. The correction has been sent to The Times.


Homes plan 'threaten way of life'

BBC News - 20 October 2005

Lord Hanningfield says the government's housing plans are misguided.

Government house building plans pose a threat to the countryside and will be a huge financial burden on the south east, the House of Lords was warned.

Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield told peers he could not remember a more serious threat to the way of life of his county's people.

He said plans for vast new communities, possibly adjoining large sections of green belt, was misguided.

It went against wishes of local people and had not been thought through.

During a debate on the social consequences of the government's house building programme Conservative Lord Hanningfield said: "In nearly 30 years of being a member of that council I can't remember a time when there was a more serious threat to the way of life of the people of Essex and the concerns that exist over the government's plans for mass house building.

"I believe the challenges facing my own county serve as an example as to what is happening in a lot of the country, particularly in the south east."

He said there was unquestionably a need for new houses and while his party was not anti-development or anti new houses, they wanted to make sure the policy was well thought out.

"What we are opposed to is the misguided plans that the government has for the creation of vast new communities possibly adjoining large sections of green belt, going against the wishes of local people and without really enough thinking about the economic independence of those new communities or the required infrastructure needed to allow them to thrive."

OUR COMMENT: Essex County Council will only support further expansion on Stansted's existing runway if the necessary improvements are made (not financed by Council Tax payers) to the infrastructure, notably to rail services and the M 11.

Pat Dale

26 October 2005


BAA takes on Macquarie in Budapest

Dominic O'Connell - The Times - 23 October 2005

BAA is squaring up to Macquarie, the Australian investment bank, in a €2 billion (£1.3 billion) bid battle to take control of Budapest airport.

The two companies lead a field of five groups that have been asked by the Hungarian government to submit final bids by the middle of November. Transport bankers believe the price could go well north of the €1.6 billion mark set in an earlier, abortive bidding round.

Analysts said the bid was a key test of nerve for BAA, which has a mixed record of investment outside the UK, and which is juggling a large investment programme at its British airports, including a fifth terminal at Heathrow and plans for a third runway at Stansted.

The bid is also likely to set a new yardstick for the valuation of European airports, which have attracted ever-higher prices in a wave of privatisations and floats in recent years.

A bid of €1.6 billion — understood to be the price offered in the last round of bidding by the German construction group Hochtief — would value the airport at 20 times earnings, a record for a European hub.

The Hungarian government is offering a 75% stake in Budapest airport and a 75-year operating lease. Macquarie, which has cut a swathe through the UK by buying up Bristol Airport, the M6 toll road and laying siege to the London Stock Exchange, is regarded by bankers as a leading contender.

The remaining bidders are Fraport, the quoted German airports group, which is bidding in tandem with Deutsche Bank; Denmark's Copenhagen Airport; and Hochtief.

A previous round of bidding was abandoned after transport unions in Hungary complained they had not been properly consulted on the sale. The unions won a court case to block the process, although the government, which is advised by Credit Suisse, immediately invited a new round of bids.

"We think they have lost only about a fortnight in total," said a source close to one of the bidders. "We still expect there to be a winner announced before Christmas."

BAA is next month expected to announce more details of its Stansted runway plans, including its exact alignment and cost. The airports group faces stiff opposition from the low-cost carriers that use Stansted. The airlines say they are not prepared to foot hefty price increases in order to pay for the new facility.

BAA has proposed a cross-subsidy from its revenue from Heathrow airport to support the Stansted development.

Meanwhile, an industrial dispute involving steel erectors on the Terminal Five development at Heathrow is to be resolved by mediation. The steel workers staged a one-day strike in a dispute over travel allowances.

OUR COMMENT: Where is all the money coming from? Another "Bubble"? Where are all the greenhouse gases going to go?

Pat Dale

22 October 2005


Google founders support emissions fund

Saeed Shah - The Independent - 21 October 2005

Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin, and the UK arm of the utility company E.on are among the backers of a $550m (£310m) fund that will buy carbon credits from the developing world. Natsource Asset Management yesterday closed the biggest private-sector fund for investing in carbon credits, known as certified emissions reductions. Dirk Forrister, its managing director, said: "We're now open for business."

The fund will finance projects to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for global warming, in countries such as China and India. Those reductions are measured in tonnes of gas and verified, with fund investors given the resulting certifications. The investors can then use the certificates to cover their emissions or sell them.

Mr Forrister said it was cheaper to modify or build facilities in developing countries, and so the fund might finance a methane-capture project in India or a hydroelectric scheme in Chile. By combining resources, the Greenhouse Gas Credit Aggregation Pool (GG-CAP] participants can boost their purchasing power and ease management of the compliance instruments.

Google's Mr Brin, who was investing in a personal capacity, said: "As a first step we are taking to reduce our impact on the climate, Eric [Schmidt, Google's chairman], Larry [Page, its co-founder], and I have committed to reducing carbon emissions by investing in the Natsource Greenhouse Gas Credit Aggregation Pool."

The Google men are the only individuals involved in the fund, but Mr Forrister suggested certified emissions reductions may prove an attractive investment to high net-worth people. The other backers include consumer product makers, manufacturing groups, energy and utility companies, including Spain's Iberdrola and Japan's Chugoku Electric Power. Shigeo Shirakura, the president of Chugoku, said: "We believe our participation in GG-CAP will contribute to the prevention of global warming."

Countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol have an obligation to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012. Natsource says these countries will be about 3.75 billion tonnes short of emission allowances over the 2008-12 period of the treaty.

Separately, a United Nations body issued the first certified emission reductions (CERs) under the Kyoto treaty yesterday, for two hydroelectric projects in Honduras which will produce 37,000 and 17,800 CERs respectively a year.

Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin, and the UK arm of the utility company E.on are among the backers of a $550m (£310m) fund that will buy carbon credits from the developing world.

Natsource Asset Management yesterday closed the biggest private-sector fund for investing in carbon credits, known as certified emissions reductions. Dirk Forrister, its managing director, said: "We're now open for business."

The fund will finance projects to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for global warming, in countries such as China and India. Those reductions are measured in tonnes of gas and verified, with fund investors given the resulting certifications. The investors can then use the certificates to cover their emissions or sell them.

Mr Forrister said it was cheaper to modify or build facilities in developing countries, and so the fund might finance a methane-capture project in India or a hydroelectric scheme in Chile. By combining resources, the Greenhouse Gas Credit Aggregation Pool (GG-CAP] participants can boost their purchasing power and ease management of the compliance instruments.

Google's Mr Brin, who was investing in a personal capacity, said: "As a first step we are taking to reduce our impact on the climate, Eric [Schmidt, Google's chairman], Larry [Page, its co-founder], and I have committed to reducing carbon emissions by investing in the Natsource Greenhouse Gas Credit Aggregation Pool."

The Google men are the only individuals involved in the fund, but Mr Forrister suggested certified emissions reductions may prove an attractive investment to high net-worth people. The other backers include consumer product makers, manufacturing groups, energy and utility companies, including Spain's Iberdrola and Japan's Chugoku Electric Power. Shigeo Shirakura, the president of Chugoku, said: "We believe our participation in GG-CAP will contribute to the prevention of global warming."

Countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol have an obligation to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012. Natsource says these countries will be about 3.75 billion tonnes short of emission allowances over the 2008-12 period of the treaty.

Separately, a United Nations body issued the first certified emission reductions (CERs) under the Kyoto treaty yesterday, for two hydroelectric projects in Honduras which will produce 37,000 and 17,800 CERs respectively a year.

22 October 2005


Lufthansa Chief Warns Airline Industry in 'Desperate' Situation

Bloomberg Online - 19 October 2005

Deutsche Lufthansa AG Chief Executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber today called the airline industry's situation ``desperate'' as analysts warned Europe's biggest carriers won't be able to escape the impact of $65-a-barrel oil for much longer.

"This industry is in a very, very desperate situation,'' Mayrhuber said at an aircraft maintenance conference today in Berlin where he called for cost reductions from suppliers to help airlines offset record fuel prices. "We are increasing our revenue while decreasing our market cap.''

Lufthansa, Air France-KLM Group and British Airways Plc may see passengers rebel against fuel surcharges, which are as much as $125 on long-haul round trips, while the carriers' oil hedging contracts cover less of their higher costs, Chris Avery of JP Morgan said in an Oct. 12 report.

"Some part of the airline profit equation will have to suffer from a trebling of its second-largest input cost,'' said Avery, who's based in London and has an "overweight'' rating on British Airways and "neutral'' ratings on Air France and Lufthansa. Avery was ranked ninth out of 81 European transport analysts in 2005, according to the Thomson Extel survey.

Worldwide, network carriers are seeing signs of a slowdown in flight demand as record fuel prices discourage travel, the International Air Transport Association said Sept. 30. Potential beneficiaries of the trend are low-cost carriers such as Ryanair Holdings Plc, which may see demand rise as consumers take shorter, less expensive vacations.

U.S. carriers, which IATA expects will report losses topping $8 billion this year, began reporting earnings late yesterday. Continental Airlines Inc. posted a profit because of fare increases to compensate for the price of oil. In Europe, British Airways will be the first major carrier to release its results, with figures due Nov. 4.

Lufthansa Slows

Of the largest European network carriers, only Lufthansa saw growth slow in September. Passenger traffic demand accelerated last month at Air France and British Airways as customers were still in what Avery termed "denial'' over the higher costs.

Investors are not yet factoring the full effect of higher fuel costs into the share prices of the large European carriers, Avery said. Air France's shares fell as much as 2.5 percent today and are down 0.9 percent this year. Lufthansa fell as much as 3.9 percent today and has risen 5.6 percent this year, while British Airways fell as much as 4 percent and is up 23 percent for the year.

The Bloomberg Europe Airlines Index, which includes eight of the leading airline stocks in the region, has fallen 1.4 percent this year. That compares with an 14 percent drop in the Bloomberg United States Airlines Index and a 16 percent decline in the Bloomberg Asia Pacific Airlines Index.

'Strong and Healthy'

In an interview after his speech in Berlin, Mayrhuber said that "there's no reason for a downgrade'' of Lufthansa shares and earnings estimates. "We're strong and healthy, and we'll stay that way.''

Air France, the region's largest airline, reported traffic grew 9.6 percent last month, up from 8.1 percent in August. British Airways rose 7.8 percent after a strike at London's Heathrow Airport caused a drop in August. Lufthansa's September traffic was up 3.9 percent, a smaller increase than 5.2 percent in August.

Air France told investors Oct. 3 that "global demand remains buoyant and is evolving'' and raised its estimates for savings from the airlines' merger last year by 22 percent, according to the company's Web site. Lufthansa Chief Financial Officer Karl-Ludwig Kley increased his company's outlook in August, predicting operating profit of more than 400 million euros ($480 million).

Mayrhuber also said that while the 17,500 planes in use around the world right now are "only a modest beginning'' for the industry, volume growth isn't translating into higher earnings.

BA Target

Willie Walsh, British Airways' new chief executive, said Oct. 4 that Europe's third-largest carrier won't achieve its profit target this year because of fuel prices. The airline is aiming for an operating profit margin of 10 percent. It defines operating profit as earnings before interest, tax and one-time items as a percentage of sales.

Jet fuel prices in northwest Europe have risen 58 percent this year, according to Bloomberg data. Crude oil prices in New York will average $65 a barrel this quarter and $62.25 in the next, compared with $61.84 on Oct. 7, according to the median projection of 20 firms surveyed from Oct. 3 to Oct. 6.

"We doubt that the revenue environment will sustain its present nirvana,'' Andrew Lobbenberg, an analyst with ABN Amro in London, wrote in an Oct. 5 note to investors, downgrading recommendations on Air France, Lufthansa and British Airways and reducing 2006 earnings forecasts by an average of 34 percent. "Though September 2005 results should be strong, the challenges we anticipate threaten all next year.''

Fuel Surcharges

Higher oil costs will outweigh the gains from fuel surcharges, and hedging, or buying advance contracts for fuel, is ``a delay mechanism, not an escape route,'' according to Lobbenberg.

Air France has about 80 percent of its fuel needs for the year ending in March covered by hedging contracts at $43 a barrel. The group covered 55 percent of its fuel requirements for next fiscal year at between $46 and $47. Lufthansa has hedges covering about 90 percent of its fuel requirement in the fourth quarter of this year, declining to under 50 percent by the third quarter of 2006.

British Airways has 81 percent of its fuel requirements hedged at an average of $45 a barrel for the rest of the financial year, and 40 percent of its oil needs hedged at $50 a barrel for the next fiscal year.

Consumer Indigestion

"Mid next year, when the hedging protection rolls back for most carriers'' could pose a problem, said Penny Butcher, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in London. "The current level of the surcharge and the customers' digestion of that is probably at its peak.''

The effectiveness of the hedges to cover higher costs may fade just as consumers become reluctant to spend as the economy slows. Unemployment in the 25 European Union countries rose to 8.7 percent in August from 8.6 percent. The International Monetary Fund Sept. 21 cut its 2005 growth forecast for 12 EU countries sharing the euro a third time this year to 1.2 percent from 1.3 percent.

As oil prices rise and consumers have to pay more to heat their homes and power their cars, "travel to the Canary Islands and all the winter sun spots could be hurt,'' said Klaus Breil, who helps manage about $6 billion at Adig Investments in Frankfurt, including airline stocks. "Leisure travel might be a problem.''

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said Oct. 4 that he remained "cautious'' about winter demand and that he expects network carriers to lower their prices later this year to compete. Ryanair, whose passenger count rose 27 percent in September, may benefit as consumers abandon long-distance travel and fly to more nearby destinations for holiday, said analysts including Avery.

OUR COMMENT: A reminder. Since oil supplies are finite and world peak production may be reached within the next 10 years, higher prices are inevitable and eventual rationing will be the only sensible solution. Meantime transport, notably air transport, consume this valuable resource as if there were no tomorrow.

Pat Dale

22 October 2005


The Dunmow Broadcaster reports the small start towards reducing traffic

Dunmow Broadcaster - 20 October 2005

ROAD charging for access to Stansted Airport by private cars is one of the radical measures Essex County Council is considering in an effort to manage future pressures on the road network.

Traffic growth in the Stansted -M11 corridor is set to rise from airport expansion, regeneration of Harlow and the new housing proposed by the East of England Regional Assembly for the next 20 year period.

Other measures to prevent road congestion in the Stansted Gateway could include a levy on air passengers, creating a rapid super -bus system on existing roads in the Harlow area and making public transport central to all new housing development.

Leader of Uttlesford District Council Mark Gayler welcomed the county council's desire to tackle future traffic congestion and said :"I fully support the need to improve all public transport in the area but feel the key issue is extending the capacity of rail links.

"In Uttlesford we cannot ignore the transport needs of rail commuters and where resources are limited these should be given priority."

In order to carry out research and feasibility studies into the Stansted-M11 corridor and other growth areas, such as the Thames Gateway in the south of the county and the Haven Gateway, Essex County Council has made a bid for almost £3 million to the Department for Transport's Transport Innovation Fund. This has been set up to help local authorities to develop innovative transport strategies.

A recent survey carried out by the county council on the proposed construction of 123,4000 new homes in Essex showed that people's greatest concerns are about pressures on public services, particularly the road network.

County Councillor Rodney Bass , Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation said: "The success of these bids to the Transport Innovation Fund is key to the economic progress of Essex and will help us to keep Essex moving. These strategies are by no means set in stone, but we are prepared to push traditional boundaries and explore new and innovative measures and techniques to help combat congestion in the county. This bid would help connect three extremely important growth areas and support Essex as an economic hub in partnership with the business community. If funding for infrastructure is not forthcoming soon, then the economic development of Essex could be in serious jeopardy."

22 October 2005


Call for air fuel tax after flyers ignore green levy

Ben Webster - The Times - 20 October 2005

Passengers are failing to participate in a British Airways plan for saving energy in the developing world

A SCHEME by British Airways to address the environmental impact of flights has proved an embarrassing failure after fewer than one in 200 passengers volunteered to take part. A month ago, the airline began encouraging passengers to pay a "green fee" to compensate for the greenhouse gases emitted by aircraft.

The amount depends on the distance travelled, with passengers flying from London to Paris invited to pay £5, those to Los Angeles, £13, and those to Sydney, £25. The money is spent on energy saving projects in developing countries.

A BA spokeswoman refused to reveal the exact number who had volunteered to make the payment since the scheme was launched on September 12 but said that it had been „less than 0.5 per cent‰ of the three million passengers the airline carried in the past month. "The scheme hasn‚t set the world alight. It‚s been a steady start. It‚s early days and we hope levels will increase," she said.

BA introduced the voluntary fee to persuade the Government that it takes the issue of pollution seriously. The airline fears that ministers will seek to impose taxes on flights unless the industry is seen to act to mitigate emissions.

Under the scheme, passengers are able to calculate their share of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by the aircraft during their journey.

They are then asked to pay a fee that will be spent on projects that help to save an equivalent amount of CO2 that would otherwise be emitted without the investment.

BA joined forces with Climate Care, an Oxford-based trust that specialises in "carbon offsetting" by distributing energy-efficient lamps in South Africa and low-emission stoves in India and Honduras.

The scheme was welcomed by Elliot Morley, the Environment Minister, who said last month: "I urge strongly other airlines to follow this lead."

A spokesman for Mr Morley said yesterday that BA was partly to blame for the low participation rate because it had made too little effort to draw attention to the scheme.

The scheme is advertised on the booking confirmation e-mailed to passengers but can easily be overlooked.

The BA spokeswoman said: "We are working with Climate Care to look at ways in which we can improve the visibility of the scheme when people are booking."

BA is also working with some of its large corporate clients on plans to offset the emissions from all their business trips.

But green groups questioned the benefits of the scheme, saying that it seriously under- estimated the environmental impact of flights.

Brendon Sewill, the chairman of the Aviation Economics Group, which campaigns against the expansion of aviation, said that the scheme failed to take into account the greater impact of CO2 emissions at cruising altitude.

"We feel it is dangerous because it encourages people to underestimate the damage they are doing by flying. It is absurd to suggest that a few cooking stoves in Honduras can offset all the emissions which spew from a plane travelling 10,000 miles to Sydney."

Mr Sewill said that aviation fuel should be taxed at the same rate as petrol for cars.

On this basis, the tax on a return flight to Sydney, which uses about 1,520 litres of fuel per passenger, would be £714.

Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Worldwide passenger numbers are expected to double to 7.4 billion a year by 2020, according to the Airports Council International.

22 October 2005


Our exhibition is coming your way

Letter to the Herts & Essex Observer - 13 October 2005

May I remind readers that Stansted Airport's consultation exhibition on our plans for the next stage of the airport's growth; making better use of the existing single runway, will shortly be visiting Elsenham and Sawbridgeworth.

This is an important opportunity for us to have some valuable feedback on what we see as the likely environmental, social and economic effects of Stansted's growth and for everyone to have their say in the sustainable development of the airport.

During coming weeks, the exhibition will be visiting: Elsenham Village Hall October 24th (10am – 8pm); Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall October 28th (4pm – 8pm) and October 28th (10am – 2pm).

Alternatively the exhibition can be viewed online by visiting www.stanstedairport.com/future. Information can also be obtained by calling 0800 783 1784.

We look forward to hearing from everyone very soon.

Terry Morgan
Managing Director, Stansted Airport.


Melissa Cowley, of Manuden, has looked at the plans, here are her views:

Letter to the Herts and Essex Observer - 13 October 2005

Dear Sir

BAA's arrogance becomes more breathtaking by the day. Last week a report was issued by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change which showed that homeowners and industry would have to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution by 2050 to zero to allow for aircraft greenhouse gases if government targets for a 60 per cent reduction in emissions were to be met. BAA's statement said "the claims by the Tyndall Centre cannot be supported".

The Tyndall Centre was established five years ago with the aim of becoming an internationally recognised source of integrated climate-change research. It is a partnership between a selection of researchers from the universities of Cambridge, Cranfield, Manchester, East Anglia, Southampton (including the Southampton Oceanography Centre), Leeds (The Institute for Transport Studies), Sussex (Science and Technology Policy Research), and Sheffield, as well as the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at the National Environment Research Council and the Energy Research Unit at CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. It is funded by the National Environment Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Department for Trade and Industry.

I know who I believe.

After a quick trawl through the BAA website I have worked out that if BAA's soon-to-be submitted planning application to raise the capacity of the airport to 35m passengers a year is approved, there will be an extra 233 flights per day (83,000 per year). Furthermore, there will be an extra 40,000 passengers and 6,000 employees travelling to the airport every day.

Bearing these figures in mind, the following are direct quotes from the BAA website section relating to the planning application consultation:

* Studies suggest the new train timetable from December 2005 with 8 car Stansted Express trains will be enough to meet airport demand in 2015.
* Water consumption for 35 million passengers a year will not affect supply to the region.
* Studies indicate that airport related traffic will be no more than 20 per cent of the peak flows on any of the motorway and trunk roads near the airport in 2015.
* Studies suggest that levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and fine particles (PM10) will not exceed existing EU and UK standards in 2015.
* From the information collected so far, the development will not directly disturb any highly valued or designated habitats.

Knowing how economical the company can be with the truth and knowing that all of the so-called 'studies' that are carried out in relation to this planning application are paid for by BAA, I personally take all of these statements with a massive pinch of salt. Anybody who lives nearby knows that allowing the airport virtually to double in size, will have an enormous and irreversible effect on the area. Whilst I have already made my views known to BAA by filling in its farcical 'consultation' questionnaire, I am sceptical enough to know that it will probably ignore my views. All I can hope is that Uttlesford will this time have the wisdom and conscience not to capitulate to BAA's strong-arm tactics and will instead choose to turn down the company's application or to go to public inquiry where there can be a full and independent assessment of its plans.

Yours faithfully

Melissa Cowley

OUR COMMENT: Have you sent your views to BAA? You can email them to stanstedconsultation@baa.com. You can also ask for the full document "Growing Stansted airport on the existing runway" and answer the questions asked. Read what SSE said on this website.

Pat Dale


Even BAA can help reduce energy use

The Herts and Essex Observer - 13 October 2005

We all have a part to play in reducing our use of energy and contributing to climate change through emissions into the atmosphere. By "we" I mean each of us as individual residents and corporate bodies such as Uttlesford District Council and BAA.

I note that BAA Stansted bleated "The idea that aviation alone would be responsible for global warming is simply nonsense". Of course it is, but I don't know who said they were the sole contributor? They and their associate airlines are simply on track to becoming the worst polluters.

According to a recent government report under the 1995 Home Energy Conservation Act, residents in Uttlesford have about the worst record in the East of England for reducing their use of energy. Uttlesford is fifth from the bottom of the league out of nearly 50 local authority areas. Only a 7.4% efficiency improvement has been achieved since 1996. We have a target to achieve by 2010 of 30%. I fear we are wide of the mark. I can understand why many residents will think "Why bother when BAA and its airlines will wipe out all our efforts many times over".

Meanwhile, the melting of the Northern Polar ice cap has just been observed to be out of control and perhaps irrecoverable.

The District Council is now following up a project supported by the Energy Saving Trust to engage with our residents to take real action to tell us all how we can reduce our energy consumption.

Come on, BAA. Let's have some reaction from you too beyond changing a few more light bulbs at the airport. It will soon be too late and the high ground at Stansted Airport will have to become a refugee camp for people near our coasts and rivers displaced by rising seas.

Alan Dean

19 October 2005


Stansted Road Toll

The Times - 19 October 2005

People driving to Stansted airport will have to pay a levy under plans by Essex County Council to raise funds for an improved bus and train service for air passengers.

The council is seeking a government grant to pay for a study into the benefits of imposing a toll on the 13 million people travelling to Stansted by car each year.


Press Release - Essex County Council - 19 October 2005

Essex County Council has bid for almost £3 million pump-priming in one of the most exciting and biggest public private sector partnerships in the country. Both by number and geographic spread. The money will be used to conduct research and feasibility studies for innovative schemes across the county. The Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) was set up by the Department for Transport (DfT) to offer incentives to develop and deploy smarter and innovative, local and regional transport strategies.

Funding to improve the efficiency of Essex' transport network is critical if the future economic prosperity of both the county and the region is to be assured. Essex is home to three major port and airport developments - Haven Gateway, Stansted and Shell Haven. There are added pressures associated with proposed new housing developments and the Olympic Games. The draft East of England Regional Plan currently proposes 123,400 homes should be built in the county over the next 20 years.

Over 90% of the Essex public are concerned about the negative aspects of new development, according to a consultation by Essex County Council. The greatest concerns are about pressures on public services, particularly the road network. Working with the private sector and neighbouring local authorities, Essex County Council has generated some exciting and pioneering proposals to develop and use the existing transport network more efficiently.

The bid to the DfT has focused on 3 main areas: the Thames Gateway, the Stansted Gateway, and the Haven Gateway. The proposals are as follows:

Thames Gateway South Essex (TGSE): TGSE is the biggest of the Government's national growth areas. Recent announcements regarding port development at Shell Haven, Southend Airport and the Olympic Games will have a dramatic impact on TGSE making it one of the key economic drivers in the country.

While these proposals provide new opportunities, the full benefits will not be optimised unless an adequate transport system is put in place. The existing system cannot cope, and new and innovative ways of managing movement are needed to accommodate the planned growth and fulfil its national role as a growth area. Therefore, Essex County Council, in partnership with Southend and Thurrock Councils, is looking at the following options:

* SOUTH ESSEX RAPID TRANSPORT (SERT): A Super-bus based rapid transit system with improved service patterns using key technology.

* DEMAND MANAGEMENT: Using technology to match demand to capacity and to manage the operation of the road network.

* FREIGHT BOOKING SCHEME: Using leading-edge technology to enable freight operators to 'book a slot' for travel in advance to manage the movement of heavy goods vehicle on the road network for access to Shell Haven.

Ultimately, Essex County Council may seek more radical solutions to demand management. As such it is vital to investigate the feasibility of road charging to alleviate congestion on the road network outside Southend.

Stansted Gateway: London Stansted Airport is developing rapidly as one of the largest airports in the country and in recent years has been the fastest growing airport in Europe. The combined pressures of airport growth, housing and regeneration will exacerbate congestion problems already being experienced in the Stansted and M11 corridor. In order to help the area realise its full potential Essex County Council, in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and BAA plc, has developed the following transport strategies:

* ROAD CHARGING: Investigation of road charging for the access of private motorised vehicles to Stansted Airport or for some form of levy on passengers.

* HARLOW AREA RAPID TRANSIT (HART): A super-bus based rapid transit system using high quality, sophisticated technology to run on existing roads to serve new and existing development.

* HIGHLY ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC TRANSPORT: ensuring that access to public transport is at the heart of all new developments in order to manage demands.

Haven Gateway: The Haven Gateway is of national and regional importance, providing a strategic transport gateway for essential trade between the UK, the rest of Europe and the world. Key drivers are the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich, Ipswich and Mistley. However, the full potential of the ports is hampered by inadequate transport infrastructure.

Essex County Council, in partnership with Suffolk County Council, has put together the following proposals:

* NETWORK CONTROL SYSTEM: for the A120/A14/A12 road network serving the port complex. This would use new technology and a control centre to improve the coordination of road works, passenger transport movements, freight distribution and through-traffic. This scheme would work in partnership with the Highways Agency, the ports and the Freight Transport Association.

* DEMAND MANAGEMENT: Managing the demand of freight traffic through a freight booking system and/or pricing system for the A120 within close proximity of the port.

All of the above schemes have been put together in partnership with the private sector and neighbouring authorities. Given the huge pressures Essex is facing, Essex County Council believes the issue cannot be effectively tackled without a partnership arrangement of this nature and magnitude.

County Councillor Rodney Bass (Con. Heybridge and Tollesbury), Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation said: "The success of these bids to the Transport Innovation Fund is key to the economic progress of Essex and will help us to keep Essex moving. These strategies are by no means set in stone, but we are prepared to push traditional boundaries and explore new and innovative measures and techniques to help combat congestion in the county. This bid would help connect three extremely important growth areas and support Essex as an economic hub in partnership with the business community. If funding for infrastructure is not forthcoming soon, then the economic development of Essex could be in serious jeopardy. "

The fund will support the costs of smarter, innovative local transport packages, which combine demand management measures such as road pricing with modal shift, and better bus services; and support the funding of regional, inter-regional and local schemes, which are beneficial to national productivity.

OUR COMMENT: Pump Priming? How much will the schemes eventually cost? And how much will the public have to pay? We need some more details! Road charges are not going to solve an expanded Stansted's access problems unless the rail system is expanded. They would help if Stansted did not expand.

Pat Dale

19 October 2005


Environment Daily 1963 - 17 October 2005

EU environment ministers agreed the bloc's negotiating strategy for upcoming global talks on a successor regime to the Kyoto protocol on Monday. The resolution lacks detail to avoid unsettling countries reluctant to discuss timetables and targets for post-2012 emission cuts.

Ministers decided to drop references to the EU's desire that industrialised countries should cut emissions by up to 30% by 2020. The target - agreed by EU heads of government in March - had been in earlier drafts of "council conclusions" setting out the EU position ahead of the first meeting of Kyoto protocol parties in Montreal in December.

"The council felt it would be a mistake to be prescriptive at this stage," UK environment minister Margaret Beckett said after the meeting. "It's not a sign of the EU diminishing its pursuit of strong cuts, but it's a recognition that we have to engage with other players".

But green group Greenpeace said the resolution was "vague" and "ignores the urgency of getting [talks] under way with a clear end date for the completion of negotiations". The UK's claim that climate change was one of its main priorities had been "exposed as subordinate to [its] special relationship with the US and its obsession with tactics over substance," campaigner Mahi Sideridou said.

The resolution now calls for "a process... to explore how further to... develop a post-2012 arrangement" and "stresses the need for a clear timetable for such a process, as well as a mechanism for taking it forward". Ministers were unsure what the outcome of the Montreal meeting will be: "Your guess is as good as mine," Mrs Beckett told journalists in Luxembourg.

Ireland explores how to close its Kyoto gap

The Irish government is consulting on further measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions alongside new projections showing that the country could overshoot its Kyoto commitment in the period 2008-12 by 8m tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year.

Even with further measures the overshoot can be reduced only marginally, suggests consultancy ICF. It estimates that Irish companies participating in emissions trading could cut 0.6m tonnes per year at a cost lower than the projected €15/tonne price of carbon. Other sectors of the economy could manage cuts of only 0.2m tonnes per year.

Most of the gap will therefore have to be filled through the protocol's flexible mechanisms. Assuming a carbon price of €15/tonne, this could cost Ireland €600m over the five years.

One policy question discussed is how far companies in the EU emission trading scheme should be able to meet their obligations by obtaining emission credits through joint implementation and the clean development mechanism. The consultancy recommends that firms should be able to meet at least 50% of requirements in this way.

19 October 2005


Government legal challenge to allow UK to pollute more
under EU climate scheme

Press Statement - Friends of the Earth - 18 October 2005

The UK Government's commitment to tackling climate change took a further blow today after it started a legal challenge to allow UK companies to pollute more under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Friends of the Earth said that if successful, this would knock the UK Government's climate strategy even further off course

The European Court of First Instance will hear the UK's legal challenge against the European Commission today. The case has been brought because the UK wants the amount of carbon dioxide it is allowed to emit under the Emissions Trading Scheme to be increased by 20 million tonnes between 2005 and 2008.

The Government approved and submitted its original plan in May 2004 for the amount of carbon dioxide it should be allowed to emit under the ETS. But following intense lobbying from industry it submitted a new plan in November 2004, which would have increased its pollution permits by 20 million tonnes. The revised (weaker) proposal was rejected by the EU.

Friends of the Earth's climate campaigner, Germana Canzi, said; "The UK Government's climate strategy is failing and our Kyoto target is under threat. But rather than taking tough action to tackle the problem, the Government is mounting a legal challenge to be allowed to pollute even more under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. And if this happens Government targets will be knocked even further off course. So much for UK leadership on global warming."

The UK Government has promised to put climate change at the top of the international agenda. The problem has been described by Tony Blair as "so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence. But UK emissions of carbon dioxide have risen under Labour.

And last month Tony Blair raised concerns by appearing to shift toward a more Bush-friendly view of tackling global warming against treaties and targets for cutting emissions and toward technological solutions. He told a conference in New York "to be honest, I don't think people are going, at least in the short term to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto

But the UK Government still believes it is doing a good job internationally on climate change. Earlier this month Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson told BBC News around the world, environmentalists are delighted with the British government's record on combating climate change.

Points to note:
* The Government has promised to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 based on 1990 levels.  A Government review of its climate strategy is due to report imminently.

* Under the EU ETS a budget is set for the amount of carbon that companies are allowed to emit. The emissions trading scheme allows European companies that emit less carbon dioxide than allowed to sell unused allotments to those who overshoot the target.

19 October 2005


Public inquiries face the axe as Labour looks
to speed up new transport projects

David Millward, Transport Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 17 October 2005

Traditional lengthy planning inquiries could be scrapped by the Government as it looks to speed up transport projects.

Ministers fear that Britain can ill afford to put big infrastructure schemes - such as a new north-south rail link - on hold as other countries press ahead with prestige schemes with minimal obstruction and so gain a commercial advantage.

But such a move is certain to put Whitehall on a collision course with environmental and countryside groups who fear that they would be weakened by any overhaul of the public inquiry system.

Any such move will intensify criticism of the Government which has already been accused of riding roughshod over local opinion with its plans to build hundreds of thousands of homes in the south of England.

Cabinet talks on an overhaul of the system have been taking place against the backdrop of a review of the national infrastructure by Rod Eddington, the former chief executive of British Airways. The early indications are that the Eddington study will be critical of under-investment by governments of all hues in strategic projects that would have made the transport system better able to meet the needs of the 21st century.

But the belief in Whitehall is that there is little point in him drawing up a radical blueprint for transport infrastructure if his proposals become mired in bureaucracy. "It is imperative we address ourselves to the issue of big infrastructure projects where there is an overwhelming national interest," Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, told The Daily Telegraph. "There must be a better way of handling the planning system. We cannot afford to spend 20 to 30 years deciding whether or not we do something."

Mr Darling accepts that even if traditional and costly public inquiries were scrapped, safeguards would still need to be in place to ensure that environmental concerns were not completely ignored in the interests of pushing through nationally important projects.

Ministers' belief in the need for action was underlined by the time taken to complete the planning process for Heathrow's terminal five and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. One option would be for Parliament to decide whether or not a project went ahead in principle, while any additional hearings would consider how schemes were implemented in detail.

Mr Darling's ideas are similar to proposals that were in a Government Green Paper but abandoned when the final legislation, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, was passed in 2004.

"It was rejected on the grounds that Parliament was not designed to make decisions on such issues," said Neil Sinden, the policy director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. "This is far better handled by the quasi-judicial procedures of a public inquiry. We would be very alarmed by this proposal."

Stephen Joseph, the director of the environmental pressure group, Transport 2000, also voiced concern. "There is no evidence that major projects are being held up by objectors in public inquiries. The real problem is inefficiency in the system itself with inspectors taking years to write their reports.

OUR COMMENT: Watch out for official consultations. Hopefully it is only a straw in the wind. Such a move would be grossly unfair to local communities and be in complete contradiction to the Government's policy to ensure that local communities are better consulted on local planning applications. It would be monstrous if large developments were excluded from the full planning process.

Pat Dale

19 October 2005


Greenskies Alliance reports - 18 October 2005

Take some time to let the commission people know that they are thinking in the wrong direction! All details can be read on the website: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/doc/2005_09_13/2005_11_15_consultation_paper_en.pdf

On the basis of this process of consultation a draft Commission Communication on the subject will be prepared.

Some "highlights" in the consultation paper:
- The commission states that extra airport capacity is essential to comply with the Lisbon strategy. Europe would become inaccessible. Both assumptions are not true. Air travel does not boost the economy and the EU will not get inaccessible as most air travellers use (regional) airports for leisure purposes. Therefore a lot of capacity will become available for business users if they are willing to pay a little bit more than current low fare leisure travellers.

- 17% of demand in 2025 is expected to be impossible in due to lack of airport capacity. The commission sees this as a big problem, although slightly lower annual growth figures over the next twenty years will overcome this problem. High oil prices, introduction of VAT a European fuel tax (or comparable levies) and inclusion in the emissions trading scheme would help a lot.

- In paragraph 52 the commission suggests that previously unused airports should be taken into consideration as a solution for capacity problems. This will effect large numbers of EU-citizens as noise problems will spread over new areas. Also the commission suggest cross subsidies: profit making hub airports could subsidise peripheral airports, thereby opening interesting new possibilities for (state) aid to regional airports.

Some general conclusions:
- not even a glance of analysis what the growth comes from (subsidies perhaps?) so this is far from a holistic approach to solving the problem. It smells like predict and provide

- on environment, it encourages authorities to comply with EU law on impact assessment, 2002/30 and the like and announces a communication on airport charges that would allow for differentiated airport charges (as if this is currently forbidden !)

- this consultation is trying to find an answer to the wrong question. Question should be: how should (growth in) air travel be managed, not: how can we build more capacity.

Read and react!
The Commission services would like to ask stakeholders to give their opinion on the issues and ideas presented in the Consultation Paper. After each section there is a box with concrete question which the Commission service kindly requests the stakeholders to answer.

Please send written replies to this consultation by e-mail or normal mail to the Commission services by 15 November 2005 to the following address: European Commission, DG Transport and Energy, Air Traffic Management and Airports, Unit F2, BE-1049 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32-2-296.83.53, Email: tren-airport-capacity-consultation@cec.eu.int.

19 October 2005


House of Commons - Written Answer - 17 October 2005

The following question was answered on 17 October 2005.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will delay an increase in airport runway capacity at Stansted airport until such time as the aviation industry is fully included in a European-wide carbon trading scheme. [17274]

Ms Buck: The White Paper set out the Government's intention to press for the inclusion of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme in 2008 or as soon as possible thereafter. It is for the airport operator to bring forward plans for a possible new runway at Stansted airport.

The following question was answered on 17 October 2005.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the possible impact of (a) changes in the cost of aviation fuel and (b) public attitudes to the environmental impact of the aviation industry on plans for expansion of Stansted airport.

Ms Buck: The policy set out in the Air Transport White Paper to support a second runway at Stansted took account of the economic, social and environmental impacts.

The Department's air passenger forecasts are kept under review and this process takes account of changes in the cost of aviation fuel along with other factors.

BAA's planning application for a new runway at the airport will be subject to the requirements of the statutory land-use planning system. A full environmental assessment will be an important consideration during this process.

OUR COMMENT: No signs of avoiding a public inquiry as yet!

Pat Dale

16 October 2005


De Havilland News - 12 October 2005

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are to launch a joint pact calling on the government to tackle the issues surrounding climate change.

It is expected that the cross-party consensus will call for the government to introduce new policies that will strengthen the UK's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and lowering pollution levels. The two parties want legislation to be introduced that will set compulsory reduction targets for greenhouse gases as well as creating an independent body to monitor emissions.

The government has already admitted that it is unlikely to meet its own target of cutting emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels within the next five years. However, it insists that the Kyoto target of lowering greenhouse gases by 12.5 per cent by 2010 will be achieved.

"Since this is the biggest environmental threat – and one of the biggest problems of any kind - facing humanity at present, it is right that the UK should develop a new approach which is based on cross-party consensus," Conservative shadow environment secretary Oliver Letwin said.

"I am delighted that we are now able to work with the Liberal Democrats to put pressure on the government. I hope that this will soon turn into a proper, three-party discussion," he added. His Lib Dem counterpart, Norman Baker, welcomed the Tories' decision to agree to cross-party discussion on what his party believes is the "most serious issue facing the planet today".

He added: "The government is struggling to meet the targets it has set itself on cutting carbon emission levels and needs all the help it can get. The Liberal Democrats' proposals to establish a cross-party consensus represent a constructive and positive way forward."


Swedish EPA demands stronger EU air strategy

Environment Daily 1958 - 10 October 2005

The EU should set more ambitious targets for cutting air pollution than finally proposed by the European Commission last month in the Cafe air quality strategy, Sweden's environmental protection agency argues in a new analysis.

Cafe was weakened shortly before its publication following objections that its estimated €12.1bn price tag would harm European industry. The Swedish EPA insists that a return to the previous higher ambition level is necessary, and that the costs of doing so have been overestimated (ED 21/09/05 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=19451).

Under the Commission's proposal, the agency says, by 2020 pollution by fine particles will still be reducing life expectancy in Sweden by 2.4 months. Some 12.5% of Swedish forests and 9% of lakes will still suffer acidic deposition than they can cope with. About 8% of soils will still contain elevated nutrient levels.

A spokesman acknowledged that even under the more ambitious proposals of the Commission's environment directorate, problems such as these would not have been eliminated but argued that the EU should still aim higher than Cafe does now.

The EPA also insists that that the Commission has inflated the costs of action, especially over the longer term. Much economic analysis underpinning Cafe's costs is based on technical means to cut emissions, an official told Environment Daily, whereas many changes can also be achieved through non-technical means.

It also believes that the Commission has failed to allow for the likelihood of very stringent medium-term carbon dioxide reduction targets. There is a huge overlap here, it believes, and cutting CO2 well beyond the current Kyoto targets after 2012 will reduce costs for pollutants covered by Cafe, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

EU governments are due to hold their first debate on Cafe towards the end of this month and may issue policy conclusions in December

16 October 2005


Fresh legal challenge mounted by councils on night flights

Richmond & Twickenham Times - 14 October 2005

THE government's recent consultation on night flights was "too vague", says the alliance of councils, including Richmond upon Thames, now taking legal action over the matter.

The fresh legal challenge was mounted by Richmond and Wandsworth councils and backed by Windsor and Maidenhead following Stage Two of the government's consultation on night flights.

Restrictions proposed in the consultation would see a phased increase in night flights at Heathrow starting next year. Last week a High Court judge ordered an expedited hearing of the councils' case, bringing a judicial review of the consultation one step further.

Richmond council leader, Cllr Tony Arbour, said: "We will go before the court and argue that a judicial review of the latest consultation proposals is essential and, if successful, then immediately proceed to a full hearing of this legal challenge."

The councils believe the second stage of the consultation was "unfair" and "unlawful" and should be re-run. The government's use of theoretical noise as opposed to real noise in its consultation will be one of the main points in the case.

Last year Richmond and Wandsworth councils gained a concession from the government following Stage One of the consultation over what type of noise should be used in setting the restrictions, but they were then disappointed when certificate noise and not the actual noise created by each aircraft appeared again in Stage Two published in the spring. The second point Richmond council has is the government's use of the term "excessive noise".

"They use it but they failed to define it," special projects manager for Richmond council John Coates said. "If they cannot define what excessive noise is, then there cannot be a policy because nobody knows what it is."

Sleep disturbance will be the third policy issue addressed if the imminent High Court hearing results in a judicial review.

The cost of sleep deprivation to the nation's economy was recently raised at a public meeting jointly held by Richmond council and pressure group Hacan Clearskies as an argument against the government's belief that night flights to Heathrow are vital to the UK economy.

This would be the sixth judicial review over night flights at Heathrow.


Cambridge Evening News - 14 October 2005

COUNCIL leaders and MPs are to attend a London rally calling for a crack down on noisy night flights to and from airports - including Stansted.

Representatives from across the region will be present, including Mark Gayler, Uttlesford District Council leader, who is representing the Stansted area. They will address an expected audience of more than 100 invited community representatives and members of the public.

The rally is backed by the Stop Stansted Expansion group (SSE). Chris Bennett, SSE's noise working group chairman, said: "The Government promised before the election it would bear down on the problem of night flights."

"It has now announced it intends to allow a 41 per cent increase in night flights at Stansted, over current levels."

"This is political cynicism at its worst - playing games with democracy at the expense of ordinary people who are asking for nothing more than a decent night's sleep."

The rally is on Monday, October 24, at Central Hall, Westminster.


Herts & Essex Observer - 14 October 2005

WARE residents claim they were told by representatives of Stansted Airport operator BAA that their town is "not important" and that they should move near a busy road to avoid aircraft noise.

They were warned to expect a dramatic increase in air traffic over the town, worsening pollution and flights later into the night and earlier in the morning.

The BAA reps are also alleged to have extolled the virtues of constant, rather than sporadic, air traffic noise — because then residents don't notice it as much! The comments were reported by Ware residents who attended an exhibition at The Priory last week on the proposed expansion of Stansted.

According to a user of community website Ware Online, a member of BAA's public relations team told a pensioner that her own solution to avoiding aircraft noise was to move to a busy road. The person, astonished by the comment, said that the rep repeated the comment when asked.

Ware town councillor George Powell, who attended the meeting last Tuesday, said: "I think it's absolutely appalling that they are giving that sort of daft advice."

"I thought that at the meeting they were just trying to cloud or confuse the issue. None of the maps they had on display showed the noise contours for Hertford or Ware."

"But then I heard the representative say that they didn't have to come to Ware because it's not that important. I was astounded. These people don't seem to be on the same planet as everyone else."

Craig MacKenzie, who runs Ware Online, was told there will be a dramatic increase in air traffic over the town, that air pollution will "get worse" and that night flights will increase.

BAA this week denied the comments were made.

A spokesman said: "It's quite ludicrous and totally incorrect to say that these things were said by staff. They are very professional and the whole purpose of the consultation was to help people understand what is proposed. They are trained to do this and would never make those sort of comments."

The airport is preparing a planning application to raise the current limit of 241,000 flights a year to 264,000, which could raise passenger numbers from 22m to 35m within 10 years.

The Mercury reported in August that some residents feel like they are living in 'Wareport' due to the growing number of planes over the town in recent months. BAA Stansted's explanation was that pilots were altering their course to suit the prevailing wind.

A second consultation later this year will focus on plans to build a second runway, which could happen as early as 2013.

16 October 2005


Charity urges boycott of Ryanair
The group was heading to Italy for a climbing holiday

BBC News - 14 October 2005

A disability group is calling for a boycott of budget airline Ryanair after a group of blind and partially-sighted passengers was ordered off a flight.

The group of nine, from Norwich, were told to get off the plane at Stansted because the flight was over its quota for disabled people. Scope, a leading UK disability charity, urged disabled and non-disabled people to blacklist Ryanair.

A spokeswoman said the airline would not be commenting on the boycott call.

Since the incident in March became public this week, the airline has also had its nomination for a prestigious disability-friendly award withdrawn by the charities Sense and Deafblind UK.

The panel of judges behind the Deafblind Friendly Corporate Awards decided to withdraw the company's nomination for a prize. The airline was down to the last three in the travel and transport category of the awards, due to be presented later this month.

Calling for a boycott of the airline, Scope's chief executive Tony Manwaring said: "Ryanair has been warned time and time again that its treatment of disabled people is simply unacceptable - but it seems they have their heads in the clouds. It's time the public clipped their wings."

Ryanair has said it has a quota of four disabled people on flights for safety reasons and believed its policy was in line with other airlines. A spokeswoman said the airline would not be commenting on the call for a boycott or the withdrawal of the award nomination but insisted the quota system would stay.

She added: "This limit was originally agreed with the UK's Disability Rights Commission for safety reasons. This is so our crew can attend to these passengers individually in the case of emergency evacuations."

10 October 2005


Saffron Walden Reporter - 6 October 2005

THE new chief executive of British Airways has slammed plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport in an interview with a national newspaper on Tuesday.

Mr Willie Walsh, on his first day as chief executive, told The Independent: "I don't know anybody who wants to see a new runway built at Stansted other than BAA. Additional runway capacity is needed but we believe that should be at Heathrow.

"We are opposed to the carriers at Heathrow and Gatwick funding a runway at Stansted. It is interesting that most of the carriers operating from Stansted don't believe that they should pay for it either."

Carol Barbone, Campaign Director for Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "Yet again we're seeing the opposition of the aviation industry to a second runway at Stansted.

"For Willie Walsh to send such a strongly worded message to BAA on his first day as chief executive shows how seriously his company takes this issue and will - like so many others - continue to fight against BAA's unjustifiable expansion plans. Cross subsidy from the latter's Heathrow and Gatwick airports will clearly be resisted by BA and other airlines to the bitter end.

"Meanwhile, BAA has spectacularly failed to produce any evidence to prove that a second Stansted runway could be commercially viable on a standalone basis - or that it is what the market wants.

"It now ought to acknowledge once and for all that there is simply no sound business case for developing Stansted and withdraw its wholly unsustainable proposals which have cast such blight over this community."

However, a spokesman for Stansted Airport strongly refuted Mr Walsh's arguments, and denied that opposition to the airport's expansion was BA's main message.

"If you look at the other interviews Mr Walsh has given, Stansted's second runway was only one of the many issues he was discussing. Stop Stansted Expansion are trying to make it into the headline, but it was only the Independent that chose to go with that story.

"As for the claim that 'no one wants the second runway other than BAA', first and foremost the government's white paper pointed to Stansted. Many carriers including Ryanair and Easyjet have backed it from the beginning, not to mention the 22 million passengers who currently enjoy using the airport."

"Mr Walsh's comments are not surprising, given that he represents a Heathrow-based carrier, but when talking about funding he is simply raising an old BA issue. The current policy is that each development should be funded by revenue from its own airport. Any changes from that would be a matter for the regulator."

"The airport needs three things to expand - planning approval, the right regulatory formula, and market demand.

10 October 2005


Airport Expansion Central To The Economic Future Of The Country

BAA Press Release - 7 October 2005

Airports and the services they provide are essential to economies across the UK, and their continued expansion will be vital if the country is to continue to prosper. Supporting the UK's position as one of the leading global economies, the aviation industry not only acts as a substantial provider of employment and Gross Added Value, but is a key facilitator for other sectors in the economy.

These are the findings of a recent report commissioned by The Airport Operators Association (AOA) into the economic and social impact of airports, conducted by respected consultants, York Aviation.

The UK's successful aviation industry plays a wider role in supporting economic activity in other sectors, helping to attract inward investment, enhancing the competitiveness of UK business and is essential to the UK tourism industry. The report warns that if airport capacity is constrained the UK's leading position in the global market place is under threat, along with jobs and well-being of many businesses.

AOA Chief Executive, Keith Jowett, commented: "Our report shows clearly the catastrophic economic effects of taking our airports for granted. Without new airport development, jobs will be at risk and nearly £2 billion a year will be lost to the British economy. Airports have a significant catalytic effect, particularly for encouraging the lucrative knowledge-based industries which are the future of successful economies."

"Our global competitors are jealous of our position and openly wish to overtake us, so we must seek to develop our airports sensibly, using the principles agreed with the Government in the Sustainable Aviation strategy, which demonstrates that economic success, social progress and respect for the environment can go hand-in-hand."

Welcoming the reports findings, Terry Morgan, Stansted Airport's Managing Director, said: "We have first-hand experience here of the value to the economy of UK aviation. Stansted is central to the East of England's growing economy, and as the airport continues to grow we are working very hard to serve the ambitions of business leaders and the tourism industry."

"The services provided by airlines at Stansted, both passenger and cargo, are essential to supporting the region's business communities, providing access to markets and suppliers, facilitating growth opportunities and allowing businesses to compete effectively through global connections. Just ast year alone 11,000 jobs were created by inward investment within the catchment area of the airport - all supported by Stanted as a major international gateway within easy reach."

"We are determined to achieve sustainable growth at Stansted, aware of our social and environmental responsibilities, to allow the East of England to continue to prosper."


Cambridge Evening News - 7 October 2005

STOP Stansted Expansion has ridiculed a claim by BAA that jobs and the British economy will be at risk without new airport development.

Airport company BAA has highlighted a recent report by the Airport Operators Association on the economic and social impact of airports, conducted by York Aviation. The association chief executive Keith Jowett said: "Our report shows clearly the catastrophic economic effects of taking our airports for granted. "Without any new airport development, jobs will be at risk and nearly £2 billion a year will be lost to the British economy."

Terry Morgan, managing director of Stansted Airport, said: "We have firsthand experience here of the value to the economy of UK aviation.

"Stansted is central to the East of England's growing economy and as the airport continues to grow we are working very hard to serve the ambitions of business leaders and the tourism industry." "The services provided by airlines at Stansted, both passenger and cargo, are essential to supporting the region's business communities. Just last year alone 11,000 jobs were created by inward investment in the catchment area of the airport - all supported by Stansted as a major international gateway within easy reach."

However Stop Stansted Expansion economics adviser, Brian Ross, ridiculed the report saying it was "About as independent as having Alex Ferguson referee his own team in a home game at Old Trafford.

"This report has been bought and paid for by the Airport Operators Association whose largest member is BAA. It's not worth the paper it's printed on but it would be amusing to find out how much they had to pay for this rubbish."

He added official Government data published by the Office of National Statistics showed the UK had a Balance of Payments deficit of £18.5 million in 2004 on air travel and tourism.

OUR COMMENT: 11,000 jobs created "in the area" because there is an airport at Stansted providing a major international gateway? What proof is there of this claim.? Stansted is primarily a tourist airport - only a minority of business passengers use the services for the reason that the airlines do not service enough major towns.

However, if successful, one small economic (though not environmental) plus, BAA have recently announced that two new translantic services are about to start from Stansted to New York JFK - EOS on 18th October and MAXjet on 1st November. Both will use Boeing 757 200s which are not exactly the newest or quietest plans on the market. They also have 200 seats but only a proportion will be used to allow a more luxurious travel experience. Both will carry only business passengers, MAXjet 72 and EOS only 48. Not good news for the climate change programme but they will, at last, introduce a better balance in services at Stansted. If only the airlines concerned would take into consideration the environmental consequences of their plans. We need an emissions charge!

Pat Dale


The new EOS service has been advertised in the USA in the Westchester County Business Journal. Gary White, of Hatfield Broad Oak, has responded

Dear Alex,

I read with interest your article 'Taxiing for take off' which highlighted the details of the new EOS airlines luxury service to Stansted Airport - London, which is due to commence shortly. As you are no doubt aware, MAXjet will also be shortly commencing a similar (although cheaper and less luxurious) service.

I must confess that I know absolutely nothing about the airline industry and have never travelled business class to or from the US - what I do know about is the North London / Essex area which is where I live. I live a few miles from Stansted and travel to work in London on a daily basis.

I can see the basic logic behind these 2 new ventures, travelling on business to & from the US in luxury surroundings must be very appealing, and if your company is paying the bill, then the cost of the ticket is possibly not a major prohibitive factor.

What I am struggling to understand, and what I believe will be the downfall of these ventures, is what will happen when the business traveller arrives at Stansted Airport. Stansted is nearly 40 miles North of London. Public transport from the airport to London is either by coach (which will not be an option for business travellers looking for luxury) or by rail. The 'Stansted Express' rail service travels from the airport into London Liverpool Street station every 15 minutes or so and takes approximately 50 minutes to reach London - not a bad service, but the trains are usually full of people who have arrived on the numerous budget flights from Europe into Stansted (again not an experience someone who has paid top dollar for an air ticket would suffer). On arrival at Liverpool Street Station, the traveller will then still have to use either the Underground or a taxi to reach their final destination.

My guess is that the majority of people arriving on these 2 new services will be the type of person to be taken from the airport by car or taxi. With an arrival time of 7.30am as stated in your article, you are probably looking at a journey time of well over 90 minutes into central London, slightly less into Canary Wharf. Business travellers arriving at Heathrow Airport can expect to be in Central London in under half an hour, and into West London (which is where the majority of media businesses such as Discovery Networks and CNN seem to be moving to) within a matter of minutes.

I am not convinced that someone who has paid a high price for luxury air travel will suffer the pain of travelling into London from Stansted on a regular basis - let's see.

Gary White


Simon Calder: The Man Who Pays His Way

Two new transatlantic carriers are the business. But will they last?

The Independent - 8 October 2005

You wait for a century for the aviation industry to come up with an all-business-class link between the US and the UK, and then - you guessed it - two come along at once. Nine days from now, the first flight on Eos Airlines is scheduled to touch down at London Stansted from New York's Kennedy airport. The passengers should arrive in good shape. They are flying in a Boeing 757, which typically carries 200 people, and which has been converted to hold just 48 seats, each of them an individual "pod" which converts to a flat bed.

Two weeks later, another new airline is set to begin a business-class-only service on the same route. MAXjet is reducing the carrying capacity of its Boeing 767 by about one third, to 102.

The two airlines were originally planning to start flying on the same day, with the first flight from New York on 1 November, but Eos moved its maiden voyage to steal a march on its rival.

As an opening offer, Eos's return fare is £2,500. "We've raised the bar on what business travellers should expect and deserve", says David Spurlock, the airline's founder. That involves "an innovative seat design with an unprecedented 21 square feet of space and lay-flat beds".

Maxjet is asking only half as much, but you don't get a flat bed, more of a 1990s-business-class product. Gary Rogliano, the airline's chief executive, says he is not alarmed by Eos offering much the same concept on exactly the same route. "We're not competing. We're focusing on the business traveller who normally books close in, and is paying full-fare economy".

In effect, Eos Airlines is flying a plane that equates to a BA Club World cabin, while MAXjet represents a superior version of Virgin's Premium Economy product extended to a whole aircraft. You can imagine how pleased the two leading airlines on the London-New York route feel about this.

Each of the newcomers appears to have the edge on the incumbents in pricing. BA's flexible Club World fare from Heathrow to New York is more than £4,000. But those who travel most frequently will routinely pay around 40 per cent less than this - about the same as Eos is asking. Virgin's Premium Economy fare is around £1,350 return, but many in those seats will be paying much less to upgrade from the class that Branson once wanted to call "Riff Raff".

Unlike previous ventures, both Eos and MAXjet look like getting off the ground. It is after this that things start getting expensive. Even though each airline is beginning with just one flight a day in either direction, the investment required to start an intercontinental airline is huge - and both can expect to lose money in the short term. But will either work in the long run?

A business-class only airline is a neat idea, and far from new. In the early days of Sir Richard Branson's airline career, he envisaged Virgin Atlantic as a posh-seats-only product. A "paper" airline called Blue Fox was set to take off on the route from Stansted to New York JFK , but the business plan fell apart after September 11.

For several years, Lufthansa has successfully operated several business-class-only jets across the Atlantic. The advantage that the German national airline has is feeder traffic both in Germany and the US, thanks to the Star Alliance and its own network.

Alliances and baggage transfer are expensive, which is why European no-frills airlines like easyJet and Ryanair shun them. Stansted is, of course, the UK's leading no-frills airport. The dedicated traveller will be able to fly on Ryanair or easyJet from Newquay or Newcastle to Stansted, connect there to MAXjet or Eos, and on arrival at New York JFK switch to a JetBlue flight to Florida. But with the need to collect bags and check in at each connecting airport, this hardly looks like seamless travel.

No scheduled airline flies transatlantic from Stansted. Continental and El Al both tried flights from the Essex airport to New York, and gave up. There is clearly some demand from the hi-tech firms in Cambridgeshire's "silicon fen" for transatlantic flights on their doorstep, but Eos and MAXjet will need to attract passengers away from the existing airlines flying from Heathrow to New York.

Both airlines started on the London-New York link because it is by far the busiest intercontinental route. But it also has a vast amount of competition: two world-class airlines in the shape of BA and Virgin Atlantic, US competitors who are catching up fast, and Air India and Kuwait Airways, which both offer very cheap business class fares.

You may conclude that exactly what the market doesn't need is any more competition. Unsurprisingly, Rogliano disagrees. "We are clearly the low-fare model. We are bringing affordable business-class fares to a broader segment of the market."

The existing airlines will hardly welcome a pair of new arrivals seeking to pinch high-revenue passengers, but they believe they have some solid advantages. Indeed, the prevailing business-class fares across the Atlantic are supported by high-flying executives for one reason: frequency. If your business meeting over-runs in Manhattan, or traffic on the freeway to JFK is too heavy, then missing the 6.30pm BA flight to Heathrow is hardly a concern as there are four more in the next four hours. Miss the only departure of the day on either of the new airlines, and you are grounded for 24 hours. And should an aircraft "go technical", recovery is far easier if you have an entire squadron.

Then there is the frequent-flyer scheme - or, in the case of Eos and MAXjet, there isn't. But Rogliano is relaxed about loyalty programmes: "We can't give you an upgrade, which is where most people use their points."

One final objection, this time from the planet: with around one in four seats over the Atlantic being empty, do we really need another pair of airlines configured to use much more fuel per passenger than normal, high density, aircraft? The market, not the planet, will decide. I foresee that some travellers will decide to go outbound on MAXjet for the daytime flight, on which a flat bed is not much of an attraction, and snooze back on Eos - total investment, at present prices, under £2,000. I'd rather fly there and back eight times, which I could do in economy. But the new boys do have one price advantage: every passenger on a one-class plane pays Air Passenger Duty at the lower rate, which represents a £20 saving - just like Concorde, which ceased to fly two years ago this month.


EU gears up for second climate change programme

Environment Daily 1957 - 7 October 2005

The European Commission will launch a second European climate change programme later this month, to devise new emission-cutting policies to reverse a worrying upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions. The outcome is likely to be a stronger focus on tackling transport emissions and more support for carbon capture and storage.

The new programme (ECCP II) was proposed by the Commission in a paper on future climate policy last February (ED 09/02/05 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=18191). It will open with a conference on 24 October. A wide range of options will be on the agenda, including renewables, energy efficiency and technology policy.

"We have to reinforce our policies because we are not on track," senior environment directorate official Jos Delbeke told a seminar in Brussels on Thursday. "Worse, we've taken the wrong direction, CO2 emissions are on the rise," he said.

Mr Delbeke said the Commission would create three working groups to produce by mid-2006 a set of "policy orientations that might be able to go to legislation." The first group - on aviation - was announced a separate paper last month. The other two will deal with road transport and carbon capture.

The first ECCP, launched in 2000, was "not sufficiently active in the field of transport," the official said. He suggested that tax policies might have to be revisited to encourage a greener road transport sector. "I think fiscal elements have to be brought to the table... with the current incentivisation we're not getting there."

Jason Anderson of seminar co-organiser IEEP warned that the consultation would be an empty exercise if the Commission has already made its mind up on which policies it wants to pursue - as it seems to have done on aviation. The first ECCP was "unambitious in its goals and we're not even achieving them in the implementation," he said.

At the same meeting, UK environment minister Elliot Morley told delegates not to expect great progress in agreeing an international post-2012 climate policy framework when parties to the UN climate change convention meet in Montreal, Canada, in December.

The experience of the first Kyoto commitment period had "scarred a few countries" and left enthusiasm for setting new emission reduction targets at a low ebb, he said. Even so, the EU was still "quite prepared to argue for them".

It was possible, but unlikely, that states would agree on timescales for any post-Kyoto commitments, he added. In a speech earlier in the week commissioner Stavros Dimas also warned it was "too much to expect full agreement... on all the core elements of a future climate change regime" at Montreal.

6 October 2005


Letters - Saffron Walden Observer - 29 September 2005

BAA is consulting about expanding the use of the existing runway at Stansted Airport. But what it has provided so far by way of information is inadequate and misleading.

At present there are 21 million passenger movements each year (mppa) at Stansted. BAA wants to increase this to 35 mppa, but the full capacity of the airport will in the end be much larger than this, well above 40 mppa. BAA tries to disguise the full impact of this by using the present authorised limit of 25 mppa as the starting point, together with the over-generous limits which it sought, and was granted, when applying for 25 mppa. However much BAA pretends otherwise, an increase to 35 mppa and more will have a major impact in terms of frequency of overflying, increased noise, road traffic and air pollution – not to mention the emissions of greenhouse gases.

It is also economical with the truth. It declares that the draft East of England Plan supports the full use of the existing runway, but fails to say that the independent sustainability report commissioned by the Regional Assembly concluded that this would be unsustainable. Nor does it mention that the draft Plan makes no provision for a second runway.

According to the Government's Air Transport White Paper an Airport Masterplan should have been prepared by the end of 2004. BAA's full Masterplan will be produced only in 2007. In the meantime we have to make do with a wholly inadequate Draft Interim Airport Masterplan. BAA says that it does not want to delay its planning explanation while a full Masterplan is being prepared. But the whole point of a Masterplan is that it enables planning authorities, and the people who are most affected, to put a planning application into the context of the long-term developments which BAA has in mind. BAA is giving greater priority to the rapid development of the airport than to the need to consult properly and openly with local communities.

BAA also ignores the impact of the proposed expansion on climate change, even though this is supposed to be high on its agenda and the Prime Minister has said that global warning is as big a threat as terrorism. And in spite of the requirements of Uttlesford District Council, it continues to use a discredited system of noise measurement and an unacceptably high level of noise as the indication of the onset of annoyance.

We have written to Terry Morgan, the airport's managing director, to express our concerns, and a copy of this letter can be found on our website. Past experience suggests that little account will be taken of the community's views, but even so we urge you to make your views known so that at least BAA will not be able to say that it was unaware of what you think of its proposals.

Peter Sanders
Chairman, Stop Stansted Expansion


Letters - Saffron Walden Observer - 29 September 2005

Peter Riding ('Airport exhibition not giving full story', letters, September 22nd) once again points an accusing finger at Stansted airport. This time he charges BAA with not giving the full story about our plans for growth on the existing runway when, in fact, the exhibition that is touring the local area is full of information about the proposals. And he forgets that the whole point about consultation is to take on board the views of as many people as possible before framing the final proposals that will be taken through the normal planning process.

Our public consultation (that lasts until the end of October) is the biggest ever undertaken by the airport. Like Mr Riding, we want as many people as possible to come along and see our plans.

All views count, and local people now have the perfect opportunity to hear the facts, make up their minds, and let us know what they think. Hundreds have already done so.

Ralph Meloy
Head of Public Affairs, BAA Stansted

6 October 2005


Letters - Saffron Walden Observer - 29 September 2005

It does not stretch the imagination to conclude that the vast bulk of the local populace is not overjoyed with the prospect of airport expansion and urban development, particularly where it will be prone to complaints about airport noise. The whole episode confirms the failure of Whitehall to stop the drift to the South East.

While mention has been made of infrastructure requirements there has been a complete lack of infiormation as to whether that most vital ofn requirements, water, is going to come from. We live in what is generally considered to be a dry area, so where are the considerable extra supplies of this resource to be found? Are we to expect water shortages and increased bil;ls to pay for miles of large diameter mains?

High time that someone got down to basics and clarified how they are going to deal with a requirement which is already under demand pressure.

T. Rumble
Walden Road, Saffron Walden

OUR COMMENT: Mr Rumble is right to be concerned. So is the Environment Agency who have predicted that future plans for this area, more houses and an expanded airport, will result in water shortages unless all new properties show a 25% improvement in water efficiency, and even then new sources will be required. Desalination plants are very energy intensive, as is pumping water for miles across the UK, so what is the solution is on offer?

Pat Dale

6 October 2005


New homes 'will cost taxpayers'

News Environment - 3 October 2005

GOVERNMENT plans for 123,000 new homes in Essex will cost the taxpayer nearly £13 billion and could see council tax soar by 43%, the county council has claimed.

The homes earmarked for Essex by 2021 in the East of England Plan will require a massive spending programme to enable infrastructure – such as roads, schools and hospitals – to cope with a 258,300 rise in population.

Essex County Council has worked out the potential costs and branded them as "unrealistic and unaffordable".

Lord Hanningfield, council leader, said last night: "At current rates of spending, we have estimated that it will take 100 years to catch up with our present shortfall in transport infrastructure.

"The council is not anti-development, far from it, but we will fight tooth and nail to make sure that we don't end with a century of chaos in the county as a result of unfulfilled promises."

"We really must make sure that new housing is preceded by the infrastructure necessary to support it."

The council claims £4.9 billion alone will have to be spent on improving road, railways and cycle-paths. Just under £1.5 billion will be needed to provide the extra 23,200 primary school places and 20,500 secondary school places that will be necessary. The county will need 552 extra hospital beds, 286 more GPs, 85 dentists and 407 other health professionals, such as nurses and midwives, which will cost £157.2 million.

The emergency services will need to be boosted with 143 new firefighters and 502 police officers, with a total cost, including new fire engines and police stations, of £21 million. Some £5 billion will be needed to buy land.

Once the homes are built and the new infrastructure is in place, the county council has predicted a rise in costs to the public sector of £2.5 billion. Taxes raised by new households will fund most of this increase, but the council is forecasting a likely shortfall of £250 million per year, which if picked up by local taxpayer alone, would equate to a 43% rise in council tax.

The largest ongoing cost would be new schools, with a cost of nearly £1 billion each year.

In the submission to the examination of the East of England Local Plan, the council said: "These costs suggest that the development proposals outlined in the draft plan are unrealistic and unaffordable."

It calls for a conditional approach of "plan, monitor and manage", ensuring that new development is preceded by infrastructure. It also singles out doubts about the adequacy of the public water supply to serve the new development, given that Essex is the driest county in the UK.

Last night, a spokesman from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said: "Demand for housing is rising in the wider South East as a consequence of the population getting older and increasing numbers of single person households."

"In parallel, the house-building industry is not keeping pace with increasing demand. Over the last 30 years house-building rates have dropped by 50% but demand for new homes has increased by 30%."

"The Government cannot stand by and allow the situation to continue or worsen. We are determined to meet the rising needs of the country but to do so in a planned sustainable way."

"Essential to that is providing the right infrastructure and public services. There is commitment across government that housing growing is supported by the right transport networks, schools, hospitals, leisure facilities and green spaces."

Last year, the East of England Regional Assembly withdrew its support for the East of England plan due to a lack of Government funding for infrastructure in the region. This March, it agreed that the development rate in the region is to be conditional upon and phased in relation to both current and future infrastructure requirements.

The Examination in Public, to be held before an independent panel, is due to start on November 1. Its aim is to provide an opportunity to discuss and test the soundness of the draft East of England plan. It is likely to finish early next year.

6 October 2005


BA chief questions runway need

BBC News - 4 October 2005

The need for a new runway at Stansted Airport in Essex has been questioned by British Airways (BA) new chief executive Willie Walsh.

Mr Walsh also said he would fight any proposals to force BA to pay for the new runway. "Additional runway capacity is needed but we believe that should be at Heathrow," he said.

Stansted Airport said it was not surprised by the views as BA was part of a consortium backing Heathrow.

Mr Walsh, who has just taken over at BA, added: "I don't mind if someone else wants a new runway built, but why should it be funded by users. We are opposed to the carriers at Heathrow and Gatwick funding a runway at Stansted."

Mark Davison, spokesman for Stansted Airport Ltd, said: "A number of airlines want the new runway at Stansted. The problem with Heathrow is the air quality issue which isn't a problem with Stansted." He said the funding of any expansion would be decided by the airport regulators.

Carol Barbone, campaign director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said Mr Walsh's views backed the group's position that a new runway was "wholly unsustainable" economically.

OUR COMMENT: Mark Davison is overconfident in his prediction that an expanded Stansted will not have an air quality problem. Even the much discussed BAA consultation document admits that with the full use of just the existing runway air quality will not meet the statutory standard for vegetation over the north east of Hatfield Forest and part of Eastend wood. Hatfield Forest is one of our oldest forests and there is already concern over nitrogen deposition in the forest and the damage that could be caused.

Pat Dale

6 October 2005


The biomedical and sociological effects of sleep restriction

Medical Research News - 3 October 2005

In spring 2005 a large European research and training network was established to investigate the causes and implications of poor sleep from the medical as well as from the social point of view.

This EU-financed sleep research project, named "The biomedical and sociological effects of sleep restriction" will last for four years and is coordinated by Dr. Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen (Stenberg) MD, PhD, at the University of Helsinki, Institute of Biomedicine.

The objective of this sleep restriction research is to characterize the physiological and behavioural effects of sleep loss and its social consequences. Sleep loss can be a consequence of sleep disorders, shift work, socio-economic constraints or voluntary restriction of sleep, due to life style. This can result in performance decrements, mood disorders, increased accident rates and considerable decrease in the quality of life. Sleep loss may also predispose individuals to conditions such as burn-out and cardiovascular diseases.

The EU has granted a 4,4 million Euro funding for this research project from the Marie Curie 6th Framework Program. In addition to Finland there are partners from UK, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.

Many countries are involved in sleep research, but especially in the smaller countries it is very difficult to acquire the funding. This sleep restriction project brings together researchers from five countries, thus creating an efficient network where the special skills of each partner can be utilized.

The network will provide funding for 24 doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. A high level research training program is created in cooperation with the European universities, graduate schools and sleep research societies.

Dr. Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen (Stenberg) says: "We can choose relevant courses from the available universities, schools and research societies and provide the trainees with a versatile education. The main objective of the training is that the trainees acquire a wide international knowledge as well in basic research as in experimental and clinical research, and also in epidemiology and sociology. Simultaneously the trainees learn to work in an international research environment and can benefit from the large research network in the future."


Early Zurich flights are disrupting sleep patterns

Swissinfo - 3 October 2005

A study into aircraft noise pollution around Zurich airport shows that people are more disturbed by early morning flights than evening flights.

The report by the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich also suggests that the people surveyed are less tolerant of aeroplane noise than before, even in areas where levels have not increased.

Switzerland was forced to open a controversial southern approach to Zurich airport after Germany banned flights between 9pm and 7am over the northern approach to the hub - which is over parts of southern Germany - in April 2003.

Campaigners were quick to take to the streets in protest despite Zurich being the only airfield in Europe to shut down its runways between 11pm and 6am.

In 2001 and 2003 some 3,000 people in 57 towns and villages around the airport were asked the by Federal Institute in two separate questionnaires how aircraft noise affected them. Their responses were converted into "annoyance" levels on a scale of 0-10.

The results ranged from 2.5 for people not under a flight path to over 7 for those in areas where noise levels have increased.

In addition, 64 volunteers underwent an experiment to see how their sleep patterns were affected by noise. Each volunteer was subjected to bursts of pre-recorded car and aircraft noise over loudspeakers as they slept.

Their heart rate and respiratory patterns were checked by measuring equipment attached to their mattresses and bedposts.

Early birds
The experiment showed that people are far more likely to have their sleep disturbed early in the morning just before they wake up than late at night just after they go to bed. Mark Brink, one of the study's authors, told swissinfo that the only way to reduce annoyance to residents would be to ban flights until later in the morning, rather than cutting the number of aircraft taking off and landing.

"A change in noise in the morning creates more annoyance than the same change in noise in the evenings," he said.

"Redistributing the morning flights would not decrease the amount of disturbance as our studies showed that the first noise disturbance is critical. People have the strongest reaction to this noise and the reaction decreases with each subsequent flight. The only thing that could help is to change the first flight to later."

Flight paths
The report, entitled Noise Study 2000, also found - unsurprisingly - that people under the new flight paths were the most annoyed. But the study also concluded that people living in areas where noise had not increased were also less tolerant than a previous study in 1991.

"There are other factors more important than the noise itself for people's emotional reactions to this subject," said Georg Thormann, who also worked on the study. "There is a political aspect as well. Since flights were banned over Germany and rerouted over Switzerland, people have become more sensitive."

The SFr430,000 ($330,000) study was partly funded by Zurich airport operators Unique, the Swiss Transport Ministry and the Federal Health Office. None of the three was willing to give a detailed response of the findings until they had time to study the report.

6 October 2005


Letters: No U-turn by Blair on climate change, says environment minister

The Independent - 1 October 2005

Sir: Your comment on the real threat of global warming to the Arctic is right (29 September), but your claim that Tony Blair has done a U-turn on climate change is wrong.

The Prime Minister made it clear in his speech in New York that while developing technology is important, it won't give us all the answers to tackling climate change. He also rightly stressed the difficulties there have been in developing international agreements, but the ratification of the Kyoto protocol owes much to the international lead he has given.

While we must focus on international agreements we must not be restricted in our action by the pace of the slowest. Tony Blair has instigated the Gleneagles dialogue and action plan and involved the major emerging economies of China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil. The EU-China and EU-India summits also saw commitments to further co-operation, including a UK-led initiative for the demonstration of near zero emissions coal technology in China.

Under our G8 Presidency we are next week (5-6 October) hosting a major conference with business on climate change and under our EU presidency we are working with the commission to include EU aviation in emissions trading.

We want action to tackle climate change on all fronts; domestic, European and international. Moving ahead with multilateral and bilateral agreements can often go further than the Kyoto obligations, as our own domestic emission targets do.

None of this undermines our commitment to international agreement through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process, but it does underline the UK's commitment to lead by example.


OUR COMMENT: We still wait for more positive action.

Pat Dale

4 October 2005


Brussels bows to industry on plans to clean up air quality

Raphael Minder and George Parker in Brussels - News Environment - 21 September 2005

Controversial plans to improve Europe's air quality have been diluted by the European Commission following protests from industry, reducing projected annual compliance costs from €12bn to €7.1bn.

The proposal, expected to be approved by the EU executive today, aims to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by pollution in the EU from 370,000 a year to 225,000 by 2020. It would introduce tougher controls on particulate matter, or fine dust, which accounts for most premature deaths. But it would introduce less stringent emission ceilings for air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and ammonia than had been envisaged before the summer.

While recognising a "change in the level of ambition", Stavros Dimas, the European Union's environment commissioner, argued that the proposal was testimony to Brussels' determination to stick to an ambitious environmental agenda.

Following last July's meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations in Gleneagles, which was largely devoted to climate change, the EU is also keen to maintain its profile as the main force behind the Kyoto protocol and initiatives to lower pollution levels.

Mr Dimas said: "Whatever way you look at it, the benefits of clean air far outweigh the costs. Nobody is immune from air pollution and I am sure that industrialists, who also breathe the same air, must be pleased."

Air pollution is one of seven areas seen as a credibility test for Mr Dimas, a former Wall Street lawyer whose appointment was greeted with scepticism by environmental groups. Separately, Mr Dimas is also preparing to tackle the environmental impact of the aviation sector with a proposal to include aviation in the EU's carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme.

This proposal is due to be tabled next week and could also prove controversial, notably because Mr Dimas is leaving open the issue of how it will apply to airlines that fly out of the EU. However, Mr Dimas expects airlines to give at least lukewarm backing to his proposal as the lesser of possible evils, compared with the idea of a kerosene tax or a user charge.

Taking as an example prime minister Tony Blair's forecast that 25 per cent of British emissions will come from aviation by 2025, Mr Dimas argued that, if Brussels did not move ahead, governments would eventually impose alternative restrictions on airlines. "Airlines know they will eventually have to make some sort of environmental contribution and it appears that this [emissions trading scheme] is the most acceptable alternative for them."

Concerning plans to overhaul the European chemical sector, Mr Dimas said he was confident that the legislation, known as Reach, would gain preliminary approval from the European parliament and EU member states by the end of the year. He welcomed the latest revisions tabled by the UK, which holds the EU's rotating presidency.

4 October 2005


Katrina and Rita are the latest crises to show us that
we need new sources of energy - soon

Oliver Morgan - The Observer - 2 October 2005

From the Prime Minister's lips in Brighton to the howls of pain from motorists; and from the Gulf of Mexico to the polar icecap, the signs are converging: decisions on what the world does for energy are overdue.

Last week several events brought the problem into sharp focus. In the UK, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks warned there may be power cuts this winter due to a shortage of gas. Then Tony Blair announced a policy review that would look at all-new nuclear power stations. All this in a week that started with the London oil market remaining open at the weekend to deal with the impact of Hurricane Rita, while petrol prices edged up once again.

Meanwhile, figures from the US National Snow and Data Centre showed arctic sea ice coverage 20 per cent below the annual average, the latest evidence that we are reaching a 'tipping point' in global warming. Plus, of course, Katrina and Rita brought the effects of warming into the oil and gas backyard of the US.

Tom Burke, environmental consultant and a former government adviser, says: "We are beginning to see people understand that this is a real problem but I don't think governments have a clue about the speed or urgency of the issue."

On the face of it, there appears little prospect of change. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), up until 2030: "Oil will face little competition from other fuels in road sea and air transportation." Opec's supply dominance will increase to some 50 per cent, adding to reliance on unstable parts of the world for global economic growth. Demand for gas will grow, Russia will dominate supply. Neither Government policies nor levels of private investment in alternatives give much indication of a concerted effort to reverse this trend.

That is not to say nothing is being done. But there is no single solution. On the one hand energy demand can be moderated by including all its costs - including pollution via carbon trading such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme; on the other, there are technical advances towards finding an alternative. But alternatives do not derive from a single source as with fossil fuel; each involves its own start-up costs, which, compared with fossil fuels, can be very expensive.

So, in a UK context, the short-term solution to supplying sufficient power is to build more pipelines to import more gas. Energy regulator Ofgem believes that after this 'bottleneck' winter, increased import capacity from Europe along with more liquified natural gas facilities will increase supply and help to moderate prices.

Longer term, the question is what will provide us with accessible energy. Nuclear power, which currently gives us 20 per cent of our power, falls to six per cent by 2020. Will wind, biomass, wave and solar power manage to fill the gap, providing some 20 per cent by then, as the government aims? It hopes the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, where industrial users must pay for permits to pollute over a set cap, and its own renewables obligation - which penalises companies that do not get a certain amount of electricity from non-fossil sources - will do the trick. But falling gas prices could also reduce the incentive to invest.

If renewables do not manage, there are other options. Nuclear, for example.The industry is lobbying for new reactors. We will know how persuasive it has been by the end of next year. Automotive companies, for their part, are investing - either through hybrid petrol/electric cars or, longer term, through hydrogen. Major companies do not release investment figures for these projects, though they are thought to be a fraction of total development spending. BMW, for example, is thought to have put £1 billion into its E38 and E67 hydrogen vehicles - equivalent to the cost of developing a single standard new model. But hydrogen power will need huge investment from retailers to provide new special pumps in petrol stations.

Prices may alter consumer behaviour, but experts say a switchover from fossil fuels is vital now to combat problem two: climate change. The IEA says: "If government policies do not change, energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide will grow marginally faster than energy use. This would mean CO2 emissions would be more than 60 per cent higher than now."

This will be due to a massive increase in generation in developing countries - mostly coal. On current trends fossil fuels will account for 85 per cent of the increase in demand. China, for example, plans to build 500 coal stations in the next 25 years, India close to 200. This will be offset to some degree by an increase in renewables, which the IEA says will triple - but the increase will be from 2 per cent to 6 per cent.

Dave Hawkins, of the Washingon-based National Resource Defence Council, says: "The problem is that even though renewables are growing at such a rate, the gap between them and fossil fuels still gets wider every year."

Nuclear may increase too - around the world, as well as possibly in the UK - but at the same time three-quarters of existing plants will be retired by 2030. IEA predictions rest on current trends, but it insists a different future is possible. Demand measures can help - there is evidence that carbon trading is at least sending price signals. But Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth says that industry has lobbied successfully for a high number of permits, making the system too loose.

In the UK, the scheme is combined with the renewables obligation - penalising suppliers that do not use renewable sources. There is evidence of change, but it is slow - in 2004, nearly 3.1 per cent of electricity sold was from renewable sources - up from 2.2 per cent in 2003.

Powergen, the German-owned integrated utility, said it would invest £1bn this decade in renewables - a 'sizeable' proportion of its total investment. But government figures show the UK is emitting more CO2 now than in 1997, and that it will reduce the total over 1990 levels by 14 per cent by 2010, compared with a target of 20 per cent. Powergen, for its part, has seen CO2 emissions fall and then rise again since 2000.

Other technologies are being explored. Clean coal - capturing and storing CO2 emitted by power stations - has received £40 million in UK government funding, for example. Oil company BP is investing in a project in Scotland that could lead to a $600m clean power station.

Executives and ministers agree that it is essential to make this work in the west and to export it to the developing world to contain global emissions. But although BP, among the more 'enlightened' oil companies, may have put $500m into renewables between 2000 and 2005, it invests close to $15bn a year in its oil infrastructure.

Technology must also spread from the developed world to control soaring transport emissions. Aviation is currently outside the remit of carbon trading schemes. The EU last week indicated it should be brought inside.

Globally, there is no political consensus. Moves towards emissions trading in the US by the north eastern states are not matched by the White House, which has ignored the Kyoto protocol. Instead, it has urged focus on technological innovation. But experts believe the governments must act through policy to level the global playing field and push innovation forward. The consequences of no change are becoming clear.

OUR COMMENT: The UK could do more without any adverse economic effects. Plans for the planning of a massive expansion of airports could be withdrawn.

Pat Dale

4 October 2005


What will happen in the East of England?

Briefing by Friends of the Earth - 3 October 2005

The changes we are witnessing to our climate are unprecedented and the impacts are therefore difficult to predict. Scientists have used computer modelling to investigate what might happen as global warming increases, providing an insight into the likely effects.

The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) has made a set of predictions about the likely impacts of climate change using a computer model based on natural variation and human influence, and in some parts of the country, further research has been commissioned by regional development agencies.

Overall, the British Isles is expected to be protected from much extreme weather because of the Atlantic Ocean, but scientists have said that we can expect significantly more rain in the winter and spring months; greater extremes of heat and drought, storms and wind and even more intense cold.

Some impacts will be felt more strongly in certain regions. Droughts are expected to increase in the south, especially in the summer. The north and west are more likely to suffer from abundant and intense rainfall. Severe flooding will occur because of the combination of sea level rise with high tides and changes in winds. Soils, particularly clay soils, react to erratic rainfall causing subsidence damage, and some coastal land will be lost to the sea or invaded by salt water.

According to the Environment Agency, some low-lying coastal land will certainly be abandoned to the sea, or become impossible to farm as salt water invades the soil and groundwater. This is potentially of major economic importance as half of Britain's prime agricultural land is below the five metre contour and much of it could be lost to sea or salt.

Many of Britain's large industrial plants - from oil refineries to nuclear power stations - are concentrated on the coast which is vulnerable to rising tides. These may have to be moved or defended. Some of the country's largest landfill sites are on former coastal marshes and at risk from rising sea levels.

East of England

The East of England has 480 km of coastline and 565 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), all of which will be vulnerable to the impacts of rising temperatures, with an increase of three to five degrees Celsius predicted by 2080.

Winters will be wetter, with rainfall increasing up to 30 per cent. Summer rainfall is expected to decrease by 45-60 per cent compared with current patterns. Storm activity is likely to increase, as are flooding incidents. Sea levels on the Essex coast are expected to rise by 22 to 82cm by 2080.

The East of England is an important region for agriculture (76 per cent of land use), and practices will have to change significantly in order to cope with the longer growing season and the reduced soil moisture in summer. Challenges exist in ensuring water resources and quality.

The region also faces considerable challenges in flood risk management – with the Environment Agency already investing some £53 million in improving flood defences in the region. The coast is vulnerable to rises in sea level, storm surges, and saline intrusion as well as 'coastal squeeze' as coastal habitats are squeezed against hard sea defences.

The intensely agricultural Fens area lies below sea level and is already artificially drained. The rise in sea levels is likely to result in coastal and fluvial flooding and saline intrusion, which will in turn impact on agriculture affecting the salinity and moisture of the soil.

The southern part of the region has been earmarked for extensive development, providing housing to the north of London as well as around Stansted airport. This increased demand for water resources will add to pressure on what is already a dry area. Landscapes and habitats are also likely to be affected by reduced water availability and temperature rises. There is a risk of subsidence on clay soils.

The Thames Gateway region is particularly vulnerable to broader coastal changes, as well as being affected by business and housing developments. As a sub-region it is particularly vulnerable to water resource deficiencies, sea level rise, and fluvial flooding. It is also likely to be at risk from subsidence.

According to the East of England Regional Assembly report on "Living with Climate Change": "The impacts of climate change in the East of England are likely to have significant economic and operational implications for local authority services and on infrastructure provision in the region."

The East of England aims to produce 14 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2010.

For more information, see also: Living with Climate Change, East of England Regional Assembly and Climate Change in the East of England, Environment Agency

2 October 2005


Walden Local - 28 September 2005

Local Liberal Democrats have again called on the government to review its airports policy and abandon proposals for a second runway at Stansted Airport. This follows a new report from climate scientists outlining the scale of greenhouse gas pollution produced by aviation. They have also pledged to join a new coalition called Stop Climate Chaos.

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research reported that aircraft pollution meant that all UK householders, motorists and businesses would have to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to zero to meet government targets. The report shows that even if aviation's growth is halved the rest of the economy will require carbon dioxide cuts far beyond government targets for 2050.

The Lib Dem Leader of Uttlesford District Council Mark Gaylor said: "If the government is serious about tackling climate change then it has to realise that it cannot allow the growth in aviation to continue unabated."

"Allowing further runways in the South-East will contribute to global warming and ultimately result in widespread flooding in East Anglia and more of the severe weather we have seen in Louisiana and Texas. The Tyndall Report says that the only alternative to cutting growth in air transport is to stop using electricity and never go anywhere by car."

Cllr Martin Foley of Thaxted added: "I welcome the commitment of government ministers to consider taxes on aviation fuels and include air travel in international trading schemes but we need action not words."

"If they are serious about dampening the demand for air travel then the logical conclusion is that they should abandon their support for a second runway at Stansted".

But BAA at Stansted was unmoved, claiming the Tyndall Report cannot be supported. Said a spokesman: "The idea that aviation alone would be responsible for global warming is simply nonsense. The aviation industry contributes around 3.5% of global emissions and there are ongoing advancements in technology, including larger planes and improved fuel efficiency."

"The UK aviation industry recognises that climate change is an extremely important issue and is engaged with policy makers across Europe for its inclusion in an EU wide emissions trading scheme."

"BAA believes that emissions trading is the most appropriate instrument for addressing aviation climate change impacts and can deliver innovation. Stability and certainty for business and responsible growth".

OUR COMMENT: Question: If the target requires a fall in emissions how can any growth of aviation be planned without someone else having to reduce more than is fair or even possible? The greenest aircraft will never be emission free and will not be around for another 20 years, at least. Meantime if the aircraft industry joins the EU club then they will have a reduction target of their own to meet. How can they expand? Or are they intending to buy all the surplus emissions on offer? If so, costs will rise. And then fares, and what will that lead to? Hopefully exactly what should have happened in the first place – no increase in flights. BAA has its head buried in the sand.

Pat Dale

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