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 2008

23 December 2008

THOUGHTS FOR 2009

GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS EMIT MORE CO2 THAN ALL OF KENYA'S ENTIRE CARBON FOOTPRINT

Robin Booth - The Guardian - Front Page Headlines - 23 December 2008

Public buildings in England and Wales are pumping out 11m tonnes of CO2 a year more than Kenya?s entire carbon footprint, the Guardian can reveal.

Unpublished findings of an energy efficiency audit of 18,000 buildings, including ministerial offices, police stations, museums and art galleries reveal that the 9000 buildings audited so far produce 5.6m tonnes of CO2 a year, with one in six receiving the lowest possible efficiency rating.

The carbon dioxide they produce is the equivalent of all the greenhouse gas emissions saved by the UK's wind power industry.

Ignorance amongst officials, inefficient equipment and poor energy management have been cited as reasons for the result, which was described as "lamentable" by environmental campaigners. It comes despite ministerial pledges to slash the carbon footprint of of government offices by 30% over the next 12 years compared with 1999/2000 levels.

Officials expect the carbon footprint to double when the audit is completed. Almost half of those tested have received an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G, the lowest possible and the equivalent of a gas guzzling car.

Embarrassingly, for Ed Milliband, the energy and climate change minister, his department's head office in Whitehall Place is one of the worst offenders. It pumps out 1.336 tonnes of CO2 a year, the equivalent of more than 14,000 people flying from London to New York.

OUR COMMENT: The article continues with further details of energy neglect, and expressions of real concern from a number of experts and environmental organisations.

Pat Dale


23 December 2008

GREEN FUTURES

Guardian Leader Comment - 23 December 2008

Seeking light in the coming darkness, it has become commonplace for politicians to hope for a green revolution that could rescue jobs and the economy as well as the planet. Gordon Brown was at it last Friday in his final press conference of the year, promising to "build tomorrow's world today" by making Britain a "world leader in cutting edge technology". Barack Obama, of course, wants the same thing and has unveiled a committed team of scientists to achieve it. "Today, more than ever, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation" he said at the weekend.

The Obama lie-up is heart warming for anyone who feared that his message of change might turn out to be hype ? on climate change aty least there is substance. His team is informed, outspoken, and determined to break with the murky legacy left by George Bush. Jane Lubchenko, for instance, an environmental scientist and marine marine ecologist, has been picked to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a conservationist of the sort kept far from power by the oil-soaked Texans who have run America for the last 8 years.

The catch, as energy secretary Ed Milliband pointed out yesterday, is that the benefits of new environmental technologies remain some way off, but the need for them is getting stronger every day. He is caught between the immediate need for energy and the equally pressing need for carbon emission reductions. Yesterday the head of the National Grid warned that lights in Britain will start going off within the next 7 years, without massive invention in the country's antique power generating structure. Logic suggests that the 100billion pounds he suggests the grid needs should be spent on clean technologies. But, other than wind power, which cannot by itself meet demand, the technology ? carbon capture and storage for example ? is not ready. Even nuclear power cannot be brought on line so quickly, which is why Mr Milliband finds himself pressed to allow new coal plants in Britain even though environmentally that is obviously the wrong thing to do.

On top of that the new technology is supposed to provide new jobs. As the energy secretary admitted yesterday, historically Britain has been better at rhetoric than reality. "The great irony of this is that America, which is a very laissez faire country, does a huge amount to support some of these new industries". The lure of a green new deal does not make getting underway easy.

It will take massive investment and cross-European coordination, and not everything that it produces will work. But it is also something that the government CAN organise. In America the Obama team is already starting to discuss specific projects that could be funded with some of the $700bn stimulus plan he plans to put in place ? investment in solar and wind technology and a new grid to carry power where it is required. Britain cannot compete on this broad scale, which makes it all the more important that the government is clear about which technologies it needs to back. Sweeping talk of change will come to nothing if it is not pegged down with specifics. As the Guardian's story today on emissions from public buildings shows, the State's failings begin at home. Even Grand plans to green the Palace of Westminster have faltered.

In the search for British technologies with export potential, the government should prioritise tidal energy. The Pentland Firth alone has the potential to power the the equivalent of London and UK firms lead the way. Tidal power could fuel electric vehicles ? where skills here are more advanced than many think. So, rescue Jaguar and Rover if necessary. But if the green revolution is to mean anything, the cars they produce must no longer be gas guzzlers. This is not a day dream. Together, Europe and America could make it happen.

OUR COMMENT: What about improving the carbon footprint of other forms of transport? Air transport for example, and the government's persistence in retaining their carbon emission target-busting expansion of airports in order to accommodate the alleged increase in holiday hungry tourists. For any country with a carbon emission problem, encouraging plans for more flights (and blighting more parts of a previously "green and pleasant land") is just as counter productive as not making government offices energy efficient. There are other ways to travel, only a little slower. Air travel is essential for many long haul trips - short haul services could be less wastefully organised as are bus and train services. Routes should be franchised, and related to smaller regional airports limited in size. Why not a stopping circular service covering several airports ? fewer flights overall and a halt to the unsustainable expansion of a few major airports?

Pat Dale


23 December 2008

MORE THOUGHTS

OVER 2 TRILLION TONS OF ICE MELTED IN ARTIC SINCE 2003

American National Geophysical Union Online - 17 December 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) ? More than 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003, according to new NASA satellite data that show the latest signs of what scientists say is global warming.

More than half of the loss of landlocked ice in the past five years has occurred in Greenland, based on measurements of ice weight by NASA's GRACE satellite, said NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke. The water melting from Greenland in the past five years would fill up about 11 Chesapeake Bays, he said, and the Greenland melt seems to be accelerating.

NASA scientists planned to present their findings Thursday at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. Luthcke said Greenland figures for the summer of 2008 aren't complete yet, but this year's ice loss, while still significant, won't be as severe as 2007.

The news was better for Alaska. After a precipitous drop in 2005, land ice increased slightly in 2008 because of large winter snowfalls, Luthcke said. Since 2003, when the NASA satellite started taking measurements, Alaska has lost 400 billion tons of land ice.

In assessing climate change, scientists generally look at several years to determine the overall trend. Melting of land ice, unlike sea ice, increases sea levels very slightly. In the 1990s, Greenland didn't add to world sea level rise; now that island is adding about half a millimeter of sea level rise a year, NASA ice scientist Jay Zwally said in a telephone interview from the conference.

Between Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska, melting land ice has raised global sea levels about one-fifth of an inch in the past five years, Luthcke said. Sea levels also rise from water expanding as it warms.

Other research, being presented this week at the geophysical meeting point to more melting concerns from global warming, especially with sea ice. "It's not getting better; it's continuing to show strong signs of warming and amplification," Zwally said. "There's no reversal taking place."

Scientists studying sea ice will announce that parts of the Arctic north of Alaska were 9 to 10 degrees warmer this past fall, a strong early indication of what researchers call the Arctic amplification effect. That's when the Arctic warms faster than predicted, and warming there is accelerating faster than elsewhere on the globe.

As sea ice melts, the Arctic waters absorb more heat in the summer, having lost the reflective powers of vast packs of white ice. That absorbed heat is released into the air in the fall. That has led to autumn temperatures in the last several years that are six to 10 degrees warmer than they were in the 1980s, said research scientist Julienne Stroeve at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.

That's a strong and early impact of global warming, she said. "The pace of change is starting to outstrip our ability to keep up with it, in terms of our understanding of it," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., a co-author of the Arctic amplification study.

Two other studies coming out at the conference assess how Arctic thawing is releasing methane - the second most potent greenhouse gas. One study shows that the loss of sea ice warms the water, which warms the permafrost on nearby land in Alaska, thus producing methane, Stroeve says.

A second study suggests even larger amounts of frozen methane are trapped in lakebeds and sea bottoms around Siberia and they are starting to bubble to the surface in some spots in alarming amounts, said Igor Semiletov, a professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In late summer, Semiletov found methane bubbling up from parts of the East Siberian Sea and Laptev Sea at levels that were 10 times higher than they were in the mid-1990s, he said based on a study this summer.

The amounts of methane in the region could dramatically increase global warming if they get released, he said. That, Semiletov said, "should alarm people."


23 December 2008

CLIMATE TASKFORCE URGES TOUGH TARGETS

Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - Financial Times - 1 December 2008

The government's climate change taskforce recommends that Britain adopt a more aggressive target for cutting greenhouse gases than the rest of the European Union. It also says that new coal-fired power stations would have to be built or retrofitted with carbon storage technology that is not expected to be in commercial use in the UK before 2015.

The climate change committee, chaired by Lord Turner, said the estimated 15bn ($23bn) a year cost of cutting emissions associated with the burning of fossil fuels is no reason to hold back on measures ranging from electrifying public transport to a large expansion of renewable energy. It advocated that the UK should cut emissions more than 26 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. Exceeding the EU goal of a 20 per cent cut by this deadline is necessary, Lord Turner will say, so the UK can meet its legal obligation of an 80 per cent cut by 2050.

Many of the measures needed to achieve the reductions will raise prices to consumers, at least in the short to medium-term. But Lord Turner will say that failing to tackle climate change now will lead to far higher costs in the medium and long-term. He will also call for measures to protect the low-paid, pensioners and other vulnerable consumers from initial price rises.

The emission cuts are to be made in the framework of three five-year "carbon budgets" running to 2022. These show how far emissions must be cut and by when, implying drastic changes to the way that government operates. "In a world with carbon budgets, every important decision will have to be made on the basis of whether it fits the budget, whether emissions savings can be made elsewhere, or whether it simply can?t be done," Ed Miliband, secretary of state for energy and climate change, warned fellow ministers last week.

Other measures likely to be set out in the report include stricter enforcement of the 70mph speed limit on motorways and a national programme of home insulation, both of which save fuel.

But, in a disappointment to the government, the committee is cautious on the prospect for "green-collar jobs". "You have to bear in mind that if you are creating green jobs, you may be destroying jobs elsewhere," one official warned.

The report will not categorically rule out new coal-fired power stations, such as the one proposed at Kingsnorth, the first to be built in the UK in decades. But any new power station using the most carbon-intensive fuel would have to be built with carbon capture and storage or be fitted with the technology afterwards.

"Power companies are not planning to run unabated coal through the 2020s" one official said, adding that they expected to retrofit carbon capture and storage technology if it was not incorporated from the outset. Ministers will be able to justify plans for a third runway at Heathrow but only if they can make substantial emission savings elsewhere.

The committee also urges stronger measures to "decarbonise" home heating.


23 December 2008

AIRPORTS FOR SALE

FERROVIAL'S SHRINKING ASSETS

Kevin Done and Michael Peel - Financial Times - 17 December 2008

Spain's Ferrovial was warned in 2006 by the Office of Fair Trading that BAA, its bid target, could face a competition investigation. But in its worst nightmares it could hardly have dreamed it would face such draconian measures as the Competition Commission is proposing.

Its highly leveraged takeover gave BAA an enterprise value of more than 16bn. For this price Ferrovial was acquiring the world's biggest airports operator. But soon the group it took over will be a pale shadow of its former self and Ferrovial is facing the task of having to sell off several airports in the worst of financial markets and in the teeth of recession as passenger numbers plunge.

BAA has already been denuded of many of its foreign interests, including Budapest airport and stakes in several airports in Australia, as Ferrovial has struggled to reduce its crippling debt burden, still running at ?30bn (27.8bn).

But much more drastic reductions lie ahead as the competition watchdog aims to enforce the sell-off of Stansted and Edinburgh (or possibly Glasgow) airports in addition to Gatwick, which has already been put up for sale by BAA in an effort to pre-empt part of the competition process.

At least for Gatwick, Ferrovial is hoping it can aim simply to secure the highest price from a bidder rather than having to take account of other factors sought by the Commission, such as the buyer's expertise in running airports or its commitment to expansion with the building of a second runway.

In the UK, BAA would be left with Heathrow ? admittedly the jewel in the crown, the busiest airport in Europe by passenger numbers and regarded by airlines as a licence to print money ? along with Aberdeen, Southampton and Glasgow.

BAA could fight the Commission's final ruling ? due in March ? by bringing a case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which has the power to overturn the watchdog?s rulings.

Big companies that have taken on the Commission in the tribunal include Tesco, the supermarket group, over the grocery market investigation and BSkyB, the broadcaster, over the order for it to sell ITV shares.

But any attempt by BAA to overturn the Commission's verdict could face a tough time, lawyers said. No leading multinational has ever managed it. Martin Coleman, head of competition at Norton Rose, the law firm, said: "[The decision] has to be wildly wrong, or some serious error of procedure."

Another potential problem for BAA is that any orders for it to sell airports will not be automatically suspended while an appeal to the tribunal is going on. BAA could apply for an emergency order to freeze the disposals process, but it would succeed only if it could convince the judges the sales would cause its business "serious, irreparable damage" or harm the public interest.

Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive, said the group would continue to make its case to the Commission during the final round of consultation, but it must already be despairing of having any impact on the final decisions. BAA believes there is still some room for manoeuvre, in particular over the timing of a sale of Stansted.

Most of the parties to the investigation agree that the shortage of runway capacity lies at the heart of the lack of competition between the London airports.

A planning inquiry was due to begin next spring into BAA's application to build a second runway at Stansted, but this could be jeopardised by the demand for the airport to be sold. The Commission said on Wednesday it would seek views on the timing of the sale of Stansted.

OUR COMMENT: It seems that the air travel industry needs some central direction. The market doesn't work, passengers are suffering as well as the planet - it's time that air travel was better integrated into national and European road and rail systems.

Pat Dale


11 December 2008

YOU CAN'T BUILD EVEN BIGGER AIRPORTS
AND STILL GO GREEN, GORDON

Evening Standard - 8 December 2008

There are red faces at BAA after today's Stansted protest but the real damage is to ministers' claims about fighting climate change.

TODAY'S demonstration at Stansted may be over and the delayed passengers on their way again. But it marks an important shift in the battle over airport expansion - and ministers and aviation bosses should prepare themselves for a lot more of the same.

Because such protests are different: they are primarily about climate change, not aircraft noise or spoilt countryside. And as ministers gather this week in Poznan in Poland for a major climate change conference, such voices could cause the British Government significant embarrassment.

For protest organisers Plane Stupid, this morning's runway occupation was just the most dramatic in a string of coups: their best-known previous stunt, last February, was a daring protest on the roof of Parliament.

Today is the first time that significant numbers of protesters have managed to occupy a British civilian runway, although August 2007's Climate Camp at Heathrow blockaded offices and there have been major demos at London's main airport this year, too.

For airport operator BAA, the occupation is a major embarrassment. That a group of peaceful protesters was able to enter what should be a secure area so easily makes a mockery of BAA's much-vaunted security measures: protesters appear to have been allowed in on the grounds that they were driving an old fire engine.

For passengers who have had to submit to ever more onerous security checks over the past 18 months, it will be galling that the company has apparently not made enough effort to secure the airport's perimeter. It has to be asked: if a few young protesters can simply drive in, would BAA's security deter committed, well-equipped terrorists?

BAA will face more such incursions. Plane Stupid have proved themselves both articulate and well-organised. But they are part of a growing movement. A number of local groups are now fighting airport plans, the longest established of which is HACAN, campaigning against a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow. Greenpeace, too, has made a major commitment to fight airport expansion.

The movement is fuelled in part by the anger of local residents. At Stansted and Heathrow, expansion plans threaten to obliterate existing villages and blanket families with the unbearable throb of aircraft noise for most of the day. What is different about Plane Stupid's protest is that its real target is the aviation industry's greenhouse gas emissions and their role in climate change.

At present, aviation accounts for seven per cent of UK CO2 emissions - much less than road transport. But aviation is the fastest-growing source of emissions: by 2050, the Government estimates that flying will be responsible for 35 per cent of emissions.

And if that seems imbalanced, it's even worse than it sounds. Late last month, the Climate Change Act finally became law. It commits the Government to an ambitious target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Thus while aviation emissions are forecast to increase, those from other parts of our economy will be decreasing - so that by then aviation will be responsible for more emissions than, say, electricity generation.

It seems a strange prioritisation of industries. Yet this Government has long had a cosy relationship with aviation. Many senior government spin doctors go on to work there: just last year, the Prime Minister's former official spokesman, Tom Kelly, joined BAA as corporate and public affairs director, while Julia Simpson, former Blair adviser and head of communications at the Home Office, joined British Airways as head of corporate communications.

Never mind that the recession makes the industry's growth forecasts look wildly optimistic. At Stansted, ministers gave the go-ahead in October for plans that will allow BAA to increase passenger numbers from 25 million to 35 million a year.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has published documents showing direct collusion between Department for Transport officials and BAA for more than a year prior to the start of the Heathrow consultation last year, helping BAA to massage environmental impact forecasts. Both the Prime Minister and the former transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, have both given the strong impression that the decision on expansion is a done deal.

Only now are the first cracks appearing in that united front. Last week, the new transport secretary, Geoff Hoon, unexpectedly announced that the Heathrow decision had been postponed until next month; it has been awaited since March. There is a growing Labour backbench revolt and reports of unease among ministers, not least because of the damage a green light for Heathrow could do Labour in some marginal seats in London and the South-East.

And then there is Gordon Brown's self-image as an international tribune, on climate change as on economic recovery. The Climate Change Act is indeed an important step. Thanks to a backbench rebellion, its target includes aviation emissions, something ministers long tried to avoid. New environment secretary Ed Miliband has been bullish about Britain?s international leadership in fighting climate change: in an interview today he calls for a make Poverty History-style "popular mobilisation" to pressure leaders into a new international agreement.

The popular mobilisation that Miliband got this morning may not be quite what he had in mind. But it is part of a growing green militancy. What's more, such activists are likely to get away with it. Last month, six Greenpeace activists who broke into Kingsnorth power station in Kent were acquitted when they called international climate change experts in their defence, convincing a jury that their protest had been necessary to stop climate change.

Their point is clear - and hard to argue with. This week, world leaders will meet in Poznan for major talks on the international agreement to replace the Kyoto treaty when it expires in 2012: Ed Miliband will doubtless be talking up the UK's targets. Yet while ministers talk airily of huge shifts in renewable energy or of a mass switchover to electric cars, they press ahead with Heathrow expansion and with a new generation of polluting coal-fired power stations such as Kingsnorth. Such moves will have precisely the opposite of what the new climate law is supposed to achieve.

For the moment, the reddest faces are likely to be at BAA. Once again, they look like a company that says one thing - in this case, on security - while doing another. But this protest has also exposed the hypocrisy and muddle at the heart of the Government's environmental policies. Face it, Gordon: we can't fly our way to a green economy.

Stansted chaos: learn the lessons

WHEN Ed Miliband, the Environment Secretary, said that he hoped that millions of people would take part in global protests to force governments to tackle climate change, he probably did not expect Stansted airport to be occupied by environmental protesters. Yet this morning, flights at one of Britain's largest airports were brought to a halt as a result of the 50 people from the pressure group, Plane Stupid, occupying part of the runway.

Thousands of would-be passengers have been stranded. Worse, the incursion raises real fears about the security of the airport. If eco-campaigners can breach runway security through the ingenious use of an old fire engine, waved through by security, Islamic terrorists with very different ends could surely gain access just as easily. The GMB union says it drew Stansted owner BAA's attention months ago to the flawed state of security fencing. Nor is this the first direct action by climate change protesters at the company's airports: there were protests at Heathrow last year. BAA must answer hard questions about its security provision.

Yet it must be said that the Government's approval for the expansion of Stansted with a second runway is one of the least justifiable elements of its controversial aviation policy. It would devastate a large swathe of rural Essex, including an historic village and church, in the interests of expansion in the budget airline sector, the part of the industry likely to be hardest hit by the credit crunch. The policy is also difficult to square with the Government's new statutory obligation to reduce carbon emissions, which includes those from aviation.

The effect of today's action by Plane Stupid will not just be to disrupt flights; it raises a salutary alarm about the state of airport security.


11 December 2008

THE STORMING OF STANSTED

Evening Standard - 8 December 2008

ANTI-AVIATION activists stormed Stansted airport today, sparking a row over the breach of security.

Thousands of passengers were left stranded after more than 50 eco-protesters cut through a perimeter fence and occupied the taxiway, preventing planes from taking off or landing. Queues formed in the terminal as airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair were forced to cancel or delay flights.

Ryanair, which cancelled 52 flights, demanded an immediate investigation after accusing airport operator BAA of failing to keep Stansted "secure and open". The airline's staff handed out leaflets to travellers, proclaiming: "It is unacceptable that the travel plans of thousands of passengers have been disrupted because BAA Stansted security have failed to remove a number of protesters." The GMB union accused BAA of ignoring its demands for a review of security fencing around Stansted. Its national officer Mick Rix said: "The GMB has been raising the state of the fencing for a number of months because we have not been satisfied that it is in a good enough state."

The activists, protesting against global warming caused by the aviation industry and the proposed expansion of Stansted, broke through the perimeter fence shortly after 3am. Many arrived on an old fire engine, from which some protesters climbed over the fence. Others used bolt-cutters to create a large hole, which the rest of the group poured through.

The activists, members of the direct action group Plane Stupid, then chained and locked themselves to temporary security fencing they had brought with them, blocking access to the runway.

At one stage, protesters claimed BAA staff tried to bulldoze them out of the way before police intervened. Officers arrested activists as they cut through the chains and locks, allowing the runway to reopen shortly after 8am. There were 57 arrests.

Plane Stupid spokeswoman Lily Kember, 21, speaking on a mobile phone before being arrested, said: "We have never done anything as big as this before. This shows the level of concern about global warming among young people." Another Plane Stupid member, who gave her name only as Olivia, told via her mobile how she and about 50 others were being driven from the protest site in an airport shuttle bus.

Olivia, who had been handcuffed by police, said: "We are all now in a shuttle bus having a party. We are all singing and dancing. This is the first time a major British airport has been brought to a standstill for this reason."

Airport security chiefs will be concerned that there was no indication that the protest was going to take place. BAA said it would review security but a spokesman added: "We do not operate a fortress. We don't employ an army of people to monitor the fence."

Nick Barton, Stansted's commercial and development director, said: "It [the fire engine] probably didn?t look out of place in all honesty as there are a number of emergency services vehicles around the site."

REBEL Labour MPs are defying Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon by plotting to force a Commons vote on Heathrow's third runway. Mr Hoon last week ruled out a vote, saying he would decide whether to give the go-ahead. But the Standard can reveal that Labour MPs are in talks with Tory and Lib-Dem frontbenchers over securing a Commons showdown. One Labour backbencher said: "If ministers think the third runway is a done deal, they could be jumping the gun."

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband today called for millions of people to unite in a global protest movement to force governments to tackle climate change. He said: "When you think about all the big historic movements, from the suffragettes to anti-apartheid to sexual equality in the Sixties, all the big political movements had popular mobilisation."


11 December 2008

NATURE REPORTS CLIMATE CHANGE

Olive Heffernan Published Online - 27 November 2008

Water vapour warming

Scientists have obtained the most detailed ever measurements of atmospheric water vapour - an abundant greenhouse gas - from unique sensors aboard a NASA satellite. The observational data validate what scientists have inferred from climate models for some time - that the heat-trapping properties of water vapour could double the effect of greenhouse warming from other sources such as carbon dioxide.

A team led by Andrew Dessler at Texas A&M University used data measured by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite from 2003 to 2008 to calculate the amount of water vapour throughout the lowest 10 miles of the atmosphere. AIRS is the first instrument capable of differentiating the amount of water vapour at different levels in the atmosphere, enabling these detailed observations.

Dessler and colleagues combined the satellite data with global-average surface temperature readings for the same period to determine how water vapour both affects, and responds to, temperature. They found that if the Earth warms by 1C, rising humidity will trap an additional 2 Watts of energy per square metre, similar to the estimates simulated by climate models.

The results suggest that the feedback effect of water vapour on climate warming is both large and positive.


11 December 2008

REGULATOR QUESTIONS STANSTED EXPANSION

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 9 December 2008

The timing of the building of a second runway at London Stansted airport has slipped into the second half of the next decade at the earliest.

The airports economic regulator has excluded the controversial project from its price control scheme for the next five years running to April 2014, despite the opening of a planning inquiry next year into the proposal by BAA to build a second runway and second terminal at Stansted.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which sets the price caps for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, has followed recommendations from the Competition Commission last month to exclude the 2.3bn project at Stansted from the price control regime for the next five years from April 2009 to March 2014.

The competition watchdog questioned the urgency of the expansion at Stansted against a background of "deteriorating economic and financial conditions". Traffic volumes at the UK's third largest airport have been falling year-on-year for 12 months in succession.

The Competition Commission said its forecasts indicated a second runway would be not be needed until 2017 at the earliest, two years later than proposed by BAA, the owner of Stansted.

The UK airports group, a subsidiary of Spain's Ferrovial, wants to develop a capacity to handle 68m passengers a year, the size of the current Heathrow airport, by 2030. The BAA planning application is based on bringing the first phase of the scheme into operation in 2015.

A spokesman for BAA said: "Government and regulators agree that new runway capacity is required in the South East of England, to relieve pressure on airports and to provide better service to passengers and airlines. It should follow that the full cost of bringing forward that new capacity is reflected in the regulatory framework."

"While the CAA is supporting the cost of the second runway planning application, we are disappointed that a significant element of our spend to date has been disallowed. We will continue to press for a regulatory framework which reflects the full cost of bringing forward the second runway proposals at Stansted."

The CAA said on Tuesday it was proposing to freeze charges at Stansted, the per passenger levy on airlines, at 6.34 per passenger for both 2009/10 and 2010/11, the same as in the current year (all at 2008/09 prices). It proposed small increases of 1.6 per cent above inflation (retail price index) in the subsequent three years taking the charge to 6.65 per passenger in 2013/14.

Harry Bush, CAA group director for economic regulation, said the price caps were designed to "protect passengers and airlines whilst maintaining good levels of service. They also look to the long-term potential expansion of airports."

The CAA has already suffered a heavy setback in its policy for Stansted, when the government rejected its call for the airport to be removed altogether from price regulation. The CAA had argued the airport did not have sufficient monopoly power to justify price controls.

The airport watchdog is also following the recommendations by the Competition Commission to impose a service quality rebate scheme at Stansted similar to the schemes in operation at Heathrow and Gatwick, which impose financial penalties on BAA if it fails to meet agreed standards.

The Commission found last month BAA had acted against the public interest in failing to consult adequately with airlines about its plans to build the second runway and terminal. The group had also acted against the public interest in the quality of service provided at Stansted in particular in the processing of passengers through security.

The CAA said on Tuesday it was proposing a financial incentive regime for the delivery of consistently good service quality to passengers and airlines. BAA said Stansted would pay rebates (to airlines) of up to 7 per cent of its total airport charges revenue from passenger flights, if it let customers down with poor service.

The CAA said the overall service performance at Heathrow and Gatwick had improved as a result of the schemes, but BAA had still incurred penalties of 4.3m at Heathrow and 3.6m at Gatwick in the first seven months from April to October for areas where it had failed to meet standards.

The Competition Commission is separately investigating the structure of BAA and has already provisionally recommended the break-up of the group's airport monopolies in London and Scotland including the sale of Stansted. BAA has already started the process to sell Gatwick.

The price regulation system at Stansted and the airport's ownership by BAA have come under sustained attack from Ireland's Ryanair, the biggest operator at the airport.

The biggest European low-cost carrier fiercely criticised BAA again on Monday for the breaches of security at Stansted, which allowed environmental campaigners to break through the perimeter fence and occupy one of the taxiways for several hours before being removed by police. It said the security failure joined "a long list of management failures at the airport including lengthy queues at security and at passport control," and repeated its call for the break-up of the BAA monopoly and the sale of the airport. Ryanair cancelled 52 flights at Stansted on Monday.


29 November 2008

UK DROPS PLANS TO INTRODUCE NEW AIR TRAVEL TAX

ENDS Europe DAILY 2665 - 25 November 2008

The British government has abandoned a plan to replace the UK's air passenger duty with a new per-plane environmental tax, finance minister Alistair Darling said on Monday as he presented a draft budget to parliament.

Instead the government will reform the existing tax, introducing from November 2009 a four-band system based on distance travelled. It wants to avoid "the disruption and costs associated with the transition to a new tax.. at a time of economic uncertainty", according to the draft budget. Rates will increase significantly from 2010.

Mr Darling told MPs that environmental spending amounting to GBP535m (E636m) planned for the 2010-11 financial year will be brought forward and spent in the current and next financial years to stimulate low-carbon growth and green jobs. The money will be spent to help improve residential energy efficiency and build flood defences.

Road fuel tax will increase from 1 December, the minister said. The government had previously announced it would delay the increase due to rising oil prices but has reversed its decision after recent price falls. A planned increase in annual vehicle excise duty will be reduced to ease the impact of the economic downturn on drivers. The current seven-band emission-related tax structure will be increased to thirteen bands from next year.

OUR COMMENT: Is this new version of an air tax likely to encourage alternative more benign methods of travel? Unlikely - flying is the only practical way of getting to far away places such as America or Asia, and this will be the highest duty band. It may even be cheaper to fly for short trips to the continent, using the recreational services that produce the highest emissions per passenger and where there are alternative forms of travel, some no more expensive than the low cost airlines, but perceived (often wrongly) by many as being too slow ? in spite of delays from security measures at airports.

Pat Dale


29 November 2008

ED MILIBAND SPEECH TO THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

Extract from speech on aviation - 25 November 2008

"And we understand that aviation is an issue of paramount importance. That is why we have successfully argued that from 2013, we should for the first time put a cap on carbon emissions, which we are doing in the EU Emissions Trading scheme.

And I can promise we are looking carefully at all the issues involved in Heathrow's third runway, including air quality, before making a decision.

And we are clear that having legislated, again for the first time, to take account of aviation in our targets through the climate change bill, any growth in emissions in aviation will have to be made up by deeper cuts elsewhere."

OUR COMMENT: Where is "elsewhere"? Surely not the undeveloped nations ? a new form of colonialism? Exploitation of carbon emissions!

Pat Dale


29 November 2008

MILIBAND PREPARED TO BREAK POLLUTION LAWS
OVER HEATHROW

Nicholas Cecil, Chief Political Correspondent - This is London - 25 November 2008

CLIMATE Change Secretary Ed Miliband today refused to rule out turning a blind eye to air quality laws to give the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow.

Experts believe that nitrogen dioxide levels will be exceeded for years to come around Heathrow if it is allowed to grow. They would breach new EU limits due to come into force by 2015 at the latest.

But Mr Miliband, when asked to give a guarantee that the Government would not ignore minor breaches of air quality laws to allow another runway, stopped short of giving such a pledge.

Speaking at an Environment Agency conference in central London, he simply stressed the importance of putting a price on carbon emissions from aviation, which is to be included in the European carbon emissions trading scheme, and added: "We will take the issues of air quality absolutely seriously when we make our decision about a third runway."

But EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has warned that the Government must respect new EU limits on pollution.

Backbench Labour MPs who are opposed to the expansion plans said the new EU laws were "non-negotiable". John Grogan MP, who has led a Commons rebellion with Cabinet support over a third runway, said: "If ministers are not careful, they will find themselves in court." Yesterday former Cabinet minister Lord Smith, now chairman of the Environment Agency, warned that a third runway at Heathrow would make it "impossible" for the Government to meet legally binding targets on air pollution.

Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said of Mr Miliband's remarks: "This is further evidence that the Government is determined to press ahead with a third runway at Heathrow regardless of the consequences for the environment, health and quality of life."

Aviation chiefs have argued that a third runway is needed to cope with the spiralling demand for air travel. It would increase Heathrow's capacity from 480,000 flights a year to more than 700,000.

The EU Air Quality Directive sets limits for air pollutants, including a level for NO2 of 40 micrograms/m? which is to be achieved by 1 January 2010. Britain can seek an extension to meet this pollution law but only until 1January 2015.


29 November 2008

AND AGAIN - WHY IS AVIATION SO FAVOURED?

CLIMATE CHANGE WATCHDOG BACKS
EXPANSION AT HEATHROW

Juliette Jowit, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 27 November 2008

The UK could meet its ambitious pledge to slash greenhouse gas pollution even if ministers give the go-ahead to expanding Heathrow airport, the government's leading climate change adviser has signalled.

This week the chairman of the government's Environment Agency, Lord Smith of Finsbury, joined critics who say that adding a third runway at Britain's biggest airport would destroy the government's promise to tackle climate change, and increase local air and noise pollution to intolerable levels.

But when asked about the contentious Heathrow plan, Lord Turner, chairman of the independent Climate Change Committee, told the Guardian that it would be possible for aviation to be expanded while still meeting the target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of this century, especially if airlines were able to use biofuels or other low-carbon power sources.

"It's possible for the world to cut greenhouse gases while still not cutting aviation by anything like as much, even increase aviation emissions," he said.

While not an endorsement of the plans, the comments could pave the way for an announcement before Christmas that Heathrow's owner, BAA, can build a third runway and new terminal to cater for hundreds more flights every day.

Turner was speaking days before the committee will publish its first report outlining how the government will meet its promise on cutting greenhouse gases. Monday's report will include interim targets for reductions which must be achieved up to 2022.

He also warned that:

* Major organisations must not use the recession as an excuse to duck ambitious plans to build a low-carbon economy.

* Promises of new jobs in the green economy should not be overstated by supporters.

He said the recession posed some threats, such as the loss of investment capital, but also opportunities, such as the potential for lower demand for steel and specialist engineering skills which should help reduce costs for renewable energy suppliers, especially wind-turbine manufacturers and operators.

In the short term, emissions should also decline as output fell, but companies should not stop investing in efficiency and clean technology to cut emissions in the longer term. Turner said: "It's very important to avoid misuse of the temporary downturn for lessening policies."

He warned that supporters of a so-called "green new deal" should not exaggerate the number of jobs that would be created, but insisted that the changes should not hurt investment or employment. "Everything we know about economic theory tells us there will be as many jobs in a low-carbon economy as a high-carbon economy," he said.

The comments come amid concern that the economic downturn could signal an end to political and business commitments, including green taxes and regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Following lobbying by the car industry across Europe, the government yesterday watered down a recommended new car emissions target for 2012, saying it would phase in a target by 2020, though it added that it was also pushing for a lower limit.

Shell and BP have been among companies that have pulled out of wind and solar energy projects in the UK, citing better returns in the US, and European plans for ambitious targets for renewable energy and emission cuts have been threatened by lobbying from businesses.

The government's climate change target - formally passed into law last night when the Climate Change Act received royal assent - includes aviation and shipping, though it will not specifically set a target for Heathrow.

This week Alistair Darling's pre-budget report included measures to stimulate green investment, such as extra money for home insulation, but he was criticised for delaying higher taxes on more polluting cars and bringing forward spending for motorway widening.

Environment campaigners were also disappointed that the government did not adopt a more aggressive package of investment in renewable energy and low-carbon technology as a way of creating thousands of new jobs, along the lines of the plans being signalled by the US president-elect, Barack Obama.

However, John Kerry, who will lead the US Senate delegation at the UN climate talks in Poland in December, warned yesterday that hopes the US could help lead a global green recovery by paying countries such as India and China to reduce their greenhouse gases might be constrained by the economic crisis.

"The bottom line is we are not going to be in the position we were in two years ago in the short term to do as much technology transfer or economic assistance in terms of transitional issues that might have led other countries to participate."

OUR COMMENT: Lord Turner has since said that he has no views on the expansion of Heathrow. His comments on allowing a rise in aviation emissions still remain.

Pat Dale


29 November 2008

BID TO CUT UK TRANSPORT EMISSIONS

Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst - BBC News - 25 November 2008

Cars could be made 25% more fuel efficient by 2020, the authors claim

UK transport emissions could be cut by a quarter by 2020 if the government shifted its policies, a report claims.

The Campaign for Better Transport study urges ministers to focus on the biggest possible savings - by tackling lorries, vans, and long-distance commuters. It also proposes an extra tax on air passengers, with proceeds redistributed among the entire population.

The government says it is moving freight off roads, and helping people make greener local travel choices. The report says that by 2020, the government could achieve emissions cuts of 26% on 2006 figures.

This is broken down as:

* Reductions in passenger travel emissions of 32%
* Freight emissions reduced by up to 19%
* Cars 25% more fuel efficient
* Car traffic reduced by 15%
* Domestic aviation emissions down 30%

However, the report says government attempts to make people who drive children to school feel bad about causing climate change have been misdirected. Using the government's own figures, it shows that the school run accounts for just 4% of the UK's carbon emissions.

The report's author, an independent expert Keith Buchan, believes we should encourage children to walk and cycle because it is good for health, independence, congestion and social cohesion. But blaming children for playing a major part in climate change is a diversion, he says.

The government is currently awaiting advice from the Committee on Climate Change as to how it should move to curb transport emissions, which have remained stubbornly high.

As vehicles have become more efficient, people have driven farther each year. A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are trying to help people make greener choices for local travel and also trying to tackle the problems with long-distance transport by moving freight off the roads."


29 November 2008

A ROD FOR OUR BACKS

From The Economist print edition - 20 November 2008

Britain decides that climate change is too important to leave to the politicians

"GIVE me chastity and continence, but not yet," Saint Augustine besought God more than a millennium ago. Those worried by global warming but unwilling to change their behaviour take a similar approach. Evidence of the damage that economic activity does to the planet is mounting, but given the cheapness and convenience of fossil fuels, the temptation to avoid tackling climate change for just another year (and another and another) is hard to resist. This is even truer as economic woes mount.

Britain's government thinks it has a solution, and it is one that so far no other country has adopted. The approach is rather like that of a desparate dieter padlocking his pantry. If all goes according to plan, a climate-change bill will be passed next week that takes the power to set carbon-reduction goals away from politicians and enshrines them in law. A climate-change committee will recommend five-year carbon budgets for different parts of the economy, such as power generation, transport and manufacturing, with the ultimate goal of cutting emissions by 80% from their 1990 levels by the time 2050 rolls around.

Modelled partly on the Bank of England's Monetary-Policy Committee, which was set up in 1997 to take interest-rate decisions out of the hands of ministers, the new Committee on Climate Change (now headed by Lord Turner, the head of Britain's financial regulator and before that the author of important pension reforms) will publish on December 1st the first three carbon budgets, covering the period until 2022. Other countries may have more eye-catching ambitions than Britain (Sweden, for instance, aspires to phase out fossil-fuel use entirely), but nowhere else will the pledges have the force of law. Foreign governments and green groups are watching the British experiment with interest.

It sounds impressive, but British climate policy has never been short of grand visions. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown's predecessor as prime minister, called global warming "the world's greatest environmental challenge2, but made precious little progress toward cleaning up the British economy to meet it.

Britain will fulfil its 2010 obligations under the Kyoto climate treaty - a 12.5% cut in emissions compared with 1990 levels - but largely because the energy-market liberalisation of the early 1990s caused a one-off switch from expensive coal-fired power stations to cheaper and, incidentally, cleaner gas-fired ones. Greenhouse-gas emissions overall have fallen only slightly since Labour came to power in 1997, and carbon emissions have risen slightly. Other pledges, such as the government's promise to generate 15% of Britain?s energy from renewable sources by 2020, stand little chance of being met. Admittedly, all this amounts to a better record than many other countries can show, but it makes British aspirations to "global leadership" look a touch threadbare.

Ed Miliband, the new climate-change minister and the foreign secretary's brother, is leading a new drive to get Britain to meet its various targets. Energy and planning bills, shortly to become law, include provisions to increase subsidies for renewable energy and to get new nuclear-power stations and wind farms through Britain's sluggish planning system. But the core of the effort lies in the climate-change bill's legally binding targets. "The advantage", says Martyn Williams of Friends of the Earth, an environmental group that has been pushing the bill for two years, "is that this doesn't leave things to distant, politically fudgeable targets."

But although the idea of applying the unforgiving sternness of the law sounds attractive, it is not clear how the planned legal straitjacket is to work. Government targets usually apply to bodies such as schools, hospitals or individual departments which can be punished if they fail to meet them. The emission-reduction targets would apply to the whole country, making any notion of punishment nonsensical. Instead, Mr Williams hopes that judges will enforce the rules against the government itself, citing a recent court case in which the judge agreed with Greenpeace that an official consultation on nuclear power had been unlawfully conducted and ordered that it be run again.

The government insists that the shame of breaking its own law will be enough to keep it in line even if enforcement proves impossible. Maybe - but the climate-change committee's carbon-budget recommendations can be ignored, the 2050 target is a very distant one and nobody is going to go to jail if it is not met. Hence the worries that the climate-change bill will in the end prove as fudgeable as other government commitments. And, ultimately, any future government can repeal it.

The government's record on meeting other, related, targets does not inspire confidence. In 1997 John Prescott, who was then the deputy prime minister and in charge of transport policy, declared: "I will have failed if in five years' time there are not? far fewer journeys by car." Five years later, traffic had risen by 7%. Attempts to hold down its growth were not helped when, in 1999, ministers retreated from an unpopular policy of above-inflation tax hikes on petrol and in 2000 reduced fuel duty further. Climate-change targets are likely to come under similar pressures. In his report on December 1st, Lord Turner will probably call for more nuclear-power stations and wind farms. But both are more expensive than fossil-fuel plants, and are therefore likely to lead to an increase in electricity prices.

The timing of all this looks especially bad. People are unlikely to be receptive to a message of voluntary austerity in the midst of a severe economic downturn. But if the global economy has taken a turn for the worse, so, it seems, has the global climate. Sea ice in the Arctic is melting more rapidly than climate models had predicted. On October 31st a paper in Nature Geoscience, an academic journal, announced evidence of warming in Antarctica, until now the only continent where temperatures had stayed constant. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted sea-level rises of between 18cm (7 inches) and 59cm by 2100. Since then, several studies suggest that those estimates could be conservative.


26 November 2008

UK ADOPTS WORLD'S FIRST BINDING CARBON TARGETS

ENDS Europe DAILY 2663 - 21 November 2008

The UK parliament has adopted a draft law on climate change that sets the world's first legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The law cleared its final legislative hurdle on Tuesday and is expected to receive "royal assent" - formal approval from the British monarch - next week.

Under the law, the government will be required to reduce Britain's carbon dioxide emissions by 26 per cent by 2020, and cut all greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The latter target also covers the aviation and shipping sectors.

In last-minute changes adopted by the parliament, the law was strengthened by limiting the number of carbon credits that can be bought on international markets to offset emissions.

The government will be required to set five-yearly carbon budgets taking the UK towards the targets, based on advice from a committee on climate change. The committee will make its recommendations for the first three budgets in December.

In a related development the parliament adopted a draft energy law, which is also expected to receive royal assent next week. The law will introduce feed-in tariffs to boost small-scale renewable energy production. The UK's existing support scheme, the "renewables obligation", will remain in place for larger producers.

Feed-in tariffs will also apply to the production of renewable heat, a sector that currently has no support scheme. Other key elements of the law include the creation of a regulatory framework for private sector investments in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.


26 November 2008

DEEDS NEEDED, AS WELL AS WORDS!
EMISSIONS UP IN DEVELOPED NATIONS

Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst - BBC News - 18 November 2008

Emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialised nations rose 2.3% from 2000 to 2006, according to new figures from the UN's climate change agency.

The biggest increases were in the former Soviet bloc - and Canada. A UN spokesman said countries had to work much faster to avoid the possibility of dangerous climate change. Next month the nations of the world meet in Poland for the annual negotiations on climate change.

The new figures do not offer a great deal of optimism. They show that in 2006 emissions did actually fall by 0.1%, but the UN's climate change secretariat said that this tiny dip was statistically insignificant.

The overall underlying trend since 2000 is up, even though the countries in question had promised to cut their emissions. The worst culprit has been Canada. Its emissions since 1990 have shot up 21.3% - they should have fallen 6%.

Recently the biggest rise was recorded by the Eastern European bloc, with emissions up 7.4% since the turn of the century. The UK is one of the few countries on track with emissions targets.

But a recent report to the British government suggested that even UK emissions were heading in the wrong direction if pollution from shipping and aviation, and the carbon embedded in the imported goods coming into the country, were counted.


26 November 2008

WILL MORE TOURIST RESORTS WITHDRAW THEIR SUBSIDIES?

Ryanair route threatened

Google News - 19 November 2008

Ryanair has threatened to scrap flights from airports, including Stansted, to a popular sunshine island destination in a dispute with local tourist bosses.

The carrier said it would close all its routes to and from Fuerteventura from January 31 unless a local tourism group "honours a commercial agreement."

Ryanair has carried 250,000 people on nine routes to the island since 2006.


26 November 2008

EASYJET WINS A REVIEW OF GATWICK PRICE CAP

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 16 November 2008

The High Court has approved EasyJet's application for judicial review of the regulatory process that allowed BAA to impose a big increase in airport charges at London Gatwick last spring.

The legal breakthrough by the leading UK low-cost carrier is a serious setback for the Civil Aviation Authority, the airports economic regulator, which has faced an avalanche of criticism by airlines for what they regard as its inadequate regulation of the three BAA London airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

The go-ahead for the judicial review of the CAA's setting of the Gatwick price cap regime for the next five years, comes amid a boardroom fight between Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the airline's founder, biggest shareholder and a non-executive director, and the rest of the board. Management is seeking to expand the fleet slowly, while Sir Stelios is pushing for an ultra-cautious approach and possible end to expansion.

The future of the corporate governance of the airline, which is due to report its full year financial results on Tuesday, has been thrown into question by Sir Stelios's decision late last week to seek to appoint two employees of his wholly-owned EasyGroup as additional directors.

Sir Stelios, who controls 26.9 per cent of the EasyJet equity, has also told the board he reserves his right to reappoint himself as chairman, replacing the current chairman Sir Colin Chandler, if his nominees are not approved. The group's articles of association allow him to appoint two directors, as long as he controls more than 25 per cent of the equity.

His actions have unleashed a storm of criticism within the EasyJet board, which includes Dawn Airey, managing director of Sky Networks at British Sky Broadcasting, David Michels, chief executive of the Hilton Group, Rigas Doganis, a former chief executive of Olympic Airways, David Bennett, chief executive of Alliance and Leicester, and John Browett, chief executive of DSG International.

Sources close to the board said it would revolt if Sir Stelios sought to make himself chairman again and a number of the independent non-executive directors would immediately resign.

Sir Stelios stepped down as chairman in November 2002, two years after the airline's initial public offering, partly strengthen the group's corporate governance and to allow him to concentrate on his fast-expanding other business interests under the Easy brand.

Sources close to the board said at the weekend the group would itself have to appoint one or two more independent directors if Sir Stelios insisted on his nominees, in order to comply with the code on corporate governance and to maintain a majority of independent directors.


26 November 2008

PROTESTS AS CARBON AUCTION RAISES 54M

The Government has provoked anger by saying proceeds of sale
will not necessarily be used to tackle climate change issues

Robin Pagnamenta, Energy and Environment Editor - Times Online - 20 November 2008

The Government provoked protests from campaign groups yesterday as it began Europe's first auction of carbon emissions permits but admitted that the proceeds would not necessarily be used to tackle climate change.

The Treasury said that it had raised 54 million through the sale of four million permits for 13.60 per tonne under the next stage of the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Yesterday's auction marked a departure from the policy of handing out the permits to industry for free. By 2012, in the second phase of the scheme, 85 million permits will be auctioned, possibly raising more than 1 billion for the Treasury. From 2013, this figure is expected to rise to about 2.5 billion a year, according to WSP, the environmental consultancy.

Campaigners said that the Treasury's decision to put the proceeds into its coffers rather than ringfencing them for use in environmental projects plays into the hands of critics, who fear that the ETS will be treated as little more than a green tax.

Robin Oakley, the head of Greenpeace's climate change team, said: "Investing in new low-carbon technology while making our homes and businesses more efficient is good news for our country and for the wider fight against climate change, but by hoarding revenues from the emissions trading scheme this Government is eroding trust in the concept of green taxes."

Lisa Harker, the co-director of the Institute of Public Policy and Research, agreed that Britain should follow the lead of the Netherlands and Germany, which have pledged to spend the cash on measures such as improved energy efficiency and alternative energy projects. She said: "This is a great opportunity to help poorer households make their homes cheaper to heat and warmer, and create jobs through investment in new green technologies."

Mike O'Brien, the Energy Minister, brushed aside any criticisms. "Today's first auction demonstrates continued UK leadership in reducing carbon emissions as part of the fight against dangerous climate change," he said. "The EU ETS is central to keeping the price of tackling climate change as low as possible to industry and the economy. We want more auctioning in the future and are planning to auction 100 per cent of the allowances needed by the power sector from 2013."

The scheme puts a cap on the emissions from about 12,000 factories and power plants across the EU responsible for about half of the region's emissions. Companies receive a set quota of allowances that they can then trade, thereby creating a price for polluting.

The European rules governing the scheme allow member governments to auction up to 10 per cent of the allowances that allocated from 2008 to 2012. From 2013, the EU, which has committed to cutting its carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, is expected to move towards 100 per cent auctioning of the permits, which will raise tens of billions of pounds a year for member states. Next year, the British Government plans to auction 25 million permits - a process that would raise 335 million at yesterday's prices.

OUR COMMENT: 13.60 pounds per tonne CO2? Is that a fair price to pay for adding more than your allowed ration to climate change?

Pat Dale


26 November 2008

BUSINESS AS USUAL NOT AN OPTION FOR THE ENERGY SYSTEM

Press Release - Energy & Environment Agency - 20 November 2008

80% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Europe still come from the energy sector, warns a report from the European Environment Agency released today. The sector continues to have significant impacts on the environment, despite the fact that more efficient production of electricity and heat, together with an increased share of renewable energy sources and replacement of coal and oil with gas are gradually contributing to cut emissions of greenhouse gas and air pollutants in Europe.

The 2008 Energy and environment report confirms that if Europeans simply stick by current policies and measures, energy consumption will continue to rise by up to 26% by 2030 ?and fossil fuels will remain as the main source of supply. "Business as usual is not an option for the energy sector" stated Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director at the launch of the report in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today. The move towards a low carbon society "isn't happening fast enough to secure the future of our environment", she said.

"Energy from fossil fuels is the root cause of human induced climate change" Professor McGlade told the Joint Parliamentary Meeting on Energy and Sustainable Development today. "The commitment of Europe to a post carbon economy and sustainable renewable energy is essential for energy security and tacking climate change" she added.

The 2008 Energy and environment report reported some positive findings with regard to the growth of the renewable energy sector and its potential to reduce emissions and improve air quality. But renewable sources only represented 8.6% of the final energy consumption in Europe in 2005 ? some way short of the EU target to achieve 20% by 2020.

Other key findings of the report include:

* European households have increased their electricity consumption by 31% in the last 15 years, in spite of an average increase by 17% in end-user electricity prices compared to the mid 1990s.

* Over 54% of the energy used in Europe in 2005 was imported from outside its borders. Russia is the largest single energy exporter to the EU, supplying 18.1% of the EU-27 total primary energy consumption in 2005.

* Between 1990 and 2005, the EU-27 experienced an average GDP growth rate of 2.1%, while reducing its energy-related CO2 emissions by a total of about 3%. During the same period, CO2 emissions increased by 20% in the US and doubled in China.

OUR COMMENT: And this is without aviation emissions!

Pat Dale


18 November 2008

SSE TO APPEAL EXPANSION DECISION IN HIGH COURT

Sandra Perry - Herts & Essex Observer - 15 November 2008

STOP Stansted Expansion has today Friday, November 14, lodged an appeal with the High Court challenging last month's decision by the Government to sanction an additional 10 million passengers a year on Stansted's existing runway.

The campaign group's action comes within days of it being confirmed that a public inquiry to consider BAA's plans for a second runway at Stansted - which would take the number of passengers to 68m a year - is to start in April 2009.

SSE's legal action will challenge three aspects of the Government's decision to approve the extra 10 million passengers a year, to about 35m, and the related extra flights.

Firstly, that the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions, however substantial, can be disregarded in the decision to approve the extra flights.

Secondly, that the economic impact on the UK trade deficit, however adverse, can be disregarded.

And thirdly, that the adverse noise impacts upon local residents and people living further afield cannot amount to a reason for refusal because to do so would frustrate Government policy.

Having taken counsel's advice, SSE considers the Government's reasoning on those three points to be wrong in law and in breach of clear assurances previously provided. If allowed to go unchallenged, the Government's decision could have national repercussions, as well as impacts on the case against a second runway at Stansted, it says.

SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "We have no choice but to mount a legal challenge to this decision. When it reaches the stage where the Government is prepared to disregard the climate change impacts, the noise impacts and even the interests of the UK economy in order to satisfy its obsession for airport expansion, then it is time to ask the High Court to intervene. The issues at stake here go far wider than Stansted."

He added: "This will be a major strain on our financial resources, especially since we also face the prospect of having to contest plans for a second Stansted runway at a major public inquiry next year. We are therefore appealing to the public for their support."

Major national environmental groups are supporting SSE's decision to mount the High Court challenge and in some cases have even promised financial support. These include the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Woodland Trust, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Aviation Environment Federation, Heathrow's campaign group HACAN Clear Skies, Plane Stupid, Ramblers' Association, We Can and World Development Movement.

Donations and pledges to SSE for the High Court Appeal Fighting Fund should be sent to SSE at PO Box 311, Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, Herts CM22 6PY.


18 November 2008

HIGH COURT CHALLENGE OVER STANSTED

Richard Cornwell - Evening Star - 14 November 2008

CAMPAIGNERS have today lodged a High Court challenge over the government's go-ahead for Stansted airport to expand.

Ministers have approved proposals which will allow ten million extra passengers a year to use the airport's current runway - sending thousands more planes over Suffolk each year and increasing the noise nuisance for many communities.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) hopes its legal action will stop the plan. Peter Sanders, Chairman of the group, said: "We have no choice but to mount a legal challenge to this decision. When it reaches the stage where the government is prepared to disregard the climate change impacts, the noise impacts and even the interests of the UK economy in order to satisfy its obsession for airport expansion, then it is time to ask the High Court to intervene. The issues at stake here go far wider than Stansted."

The legal challenge will be hugely expensive and SSE is hoping it will receive public support to enable the action to take place. "This will be a major strain on our financial resources especially since we also face the prospect of having to contest plans for a second Stansted runway at a major public inquiry next year," said Mr Sanders. "We are therefore appealing to the public for their support."

SSE's legal action will challenge three aspects of the government's decision to approve the extra ten million passengers a year and the extra flights:

* That the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions, however substantial, can be disregarded in the decision to approve the extra flights;

* That the economic impact on the UK trade deficit, however adverse, can be disregarded;

* That the adverse noise impacts upon local residents and people living further afield cannot amount to a reason for refusal because to do so would frustrate government policy.

Having taken counsel's advice - lawyers Paul Stinchcombe and Sarah Hannett, of Grays Inn Square, London - SSE considers the government's reasoning on the three points to be wrong in law and in breach of clear assurances previously provided.

It says if the government's decision is allowed to go unchallenged, it could have national repercussions as well as impacts on the case against a second runway at Stansted.

The action comes just days after it was confirmed a public inquiry into BAA's plans for a second runway at Stansted will start in April 2009.

Announcing the airport expansion last month, aviation minister Jim Fitzpatrick said there was an "urgent need" for additional runway capacity in the south east.

"We recognise that there have been strong views expressed about Stansted's expansion and all views were given the chance to be heard at the public inquiry," he said. "Ministers thought long and hard about the case before making their decision to allow an increase of a little under ten per cent in the maximum permitted number of flights to and from the airport from 241,000 to 264,000 air traffic movements a year."

OUR COMMENT: Why urgent? When passenger numbers are falling? What is the evidence that people are unable to fly because they could not find a seat? How many planes are flying with empty seats? With the new circumstances that have arisen since the somewhat elderly ATWP it is time that passenger forecasts were revised. No policy is set in stone, and this particular policy appears to be regarded by some as having the force of legislation, and yet it has never been even debated in Parliament!

Pat Dale


18 November 2008

OCTOBER TRAFFIC FIGURES AT BAA'S AIRPORTS

BAA traffic commentary: October 2008 - 14 November 2008

BAA's seven UK airports handled a total of 12.4 million passengers during October, a drop of 6.0% over the same period last year. Year to date, BAA's UK airport traffic shows a decline of 1.9% for the ten months to October at a total of 125.8 million.

Of the key markets, European charter recorded the highest percentage drop (-15.7%) while North Atlantic, Domestic, European scheduled and other long haul were down 7.1%, 6.3%, 5.1% and 4.3% respectively.

On an individual airport level, Heathrow was down 3.7% although its North Atlantic traffic continued to do well (up 7.4%). Gatwick's positive results on the Irish routes (up 27.3%) and European scheduled (up 3.5%) partly offset the 41.6% drop in North Atlantic traffic (mainly due to the introduction of the Open Skies agreement), the airport overall declined 10.3%. Stansted was down by 6.3% and Southampton by 7.4%.

Overall the Scottish airports posted a drop of 6.1%, Glasgow fell by 9.1%, Aberdeen by 5.3% and Edinburgh by 3.2%.

In total the group handled 4.2% fewer air transport movements in October. Cargo tonnage was down 2.5% despite increases of 4.2%, 3.3% and 26.8% respectively at Heathrow, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

BAA remains of the view that the long-term growth prospects for aviation are good. Historically, air traffic growth recovers from short-term shocks such as those currently being played out in the financial markets, as evidenced by the growth in traffic after the Gulf wars, 9/11 and the Asian economic problems in the late 1990s and the fact that sales of commercial civilian aircraft remain buoyant.


18 November 2008

BORIS JOHNSON READY TO SUE
OVER THIRD HEATHROW RUNWAY

Chris Gourlay - Sunday Times - 15 November 2008

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has threatened to take legal action against the government if ministers go ahead with plans to build a third runway at Heathrow.

He and a coalition of local authorities representing 4m people believe expansion, which would increase the number of flights at Heathrow from 480,000 to 700,000 a year, would breach European Union laws on pollution.

Legal action could derail Geoff Hoon's intention to ensure the new runway is operational by 2030. He is expected to give the go-ahead to the expansion next month.

A spokesman for Johnson said City Hall and the 2M group of local authorities would analyse the government's decision to determine whether there was a basis for legal action.

Johnson has pledged an initial 15,000 towards the costs of mounting a legal challenge if lawyers give the go-ahead, and may pay more if needed. His spokesman said the business case for the runway expansion did not outweigh "concerns for the local environment in terms of noise and air quality".

The case for a potential judicial review is likely to rest on whether EU air pollution limits would be breached as a result of the expansion.

The government white paper said approval would be given only if the runway met noise and environmental standards. But critics, including the Environment Agency, say the extra nitrogen dioxide emissions produced by expansion will breach EU limits, which come into force in 2010. Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, has confirmed that the government will seek permission to postpone compliance until 2015.

Stavros Dimas, the European commissioner for the environment, has vowed to take enforcement action if the limits are breached.

The warning came after it emerged that Department for Transport (DfT) officials doubted their own proposed measures for reducing pollution at the airport. The DfT's consultation paper on the Heathrow expansion hid concerns, revealed under freedom of information laws, that measures to mitigate pollution are likely to be "too costly or impractical... or politically unacceptable".

The DfT's September 2007 "risk register" for Heathrow expansion also shows that officials assessed as "high" the risk that mitigation measures might not be deliverable.

Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth council and speaking on behalf of the 2M group, said: "We are trying to show that the whole basis on which the government wants to justify expansion is bogus. It's great that Boris is supporting this action and it's not too late for the government to think again."

Opponents of Heathrow's expansion have been emboldened by the impact of the recession, which is reducing demand for air travel. Consultants for WWF UK, the environmental group, predict that higher oil prices mean demand in 2030 will have grown by 38% less than is assumed by the DfT.


18 November 2008

IEA PRESENTS GRIM REALITY CHECK ON CLIMATE GOALS

ENDS Europe DAILY 2656 - 12 November 2008

Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius presents the world with an "immense" challenge, the International energy agency (IEA) said on Wednesday in its latest World energy outlook.

"Leaving aside any debate about the political feasibility... it is uncertain whether the scale of the transformation envisaged is even technically achievable," it says. The technology shift required would "certainly be unprecedented in scale and speed" and assumes "broad deployment of technologies that have not yet been proven".

Earlier this year the IEA's head Nobuo Tanaka said a global energy revolution was "achievable" provided there was massive investment in clean energy technologies. The credit crunch must not delay spending, he emphasised in London on Wednesday.

Politically, the two degrees target is also problematic. "The 2030 emissions level for the world as a whole in this scenario is less than the level of projected emissions for non-OECD countries alone in the reference scenario," according to the IEA's report.

This means developing countries must also cut emissions. The EU is calling for them to commit to cuts of 15-30 per cent below business as usual under a new international climate treaty due to be sealed in Copenhagen next year. But developing countries have long resisted such calls.

The extra global energy investment needed to limit warming to two degrees is US$9.3 trillion (€7.3 trillion) between 2010 and 2030, calculates the IEA. The agency predicts fuel savings totalling €4.5 trillion under this scenario. Scientists have long said temperature rise must be limited to two degrees to avoid catastrophe. The EU has adopted this as its official target.

Under the IEA's reference scenario, which assumes no new government policies, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will double by the end of this century, entailing a global temperature rise of up to six degrees Celsius.


18 November 2008

UK FACES HEATHROW LEGAL ACTION

Chris Ames - New Statesman - 12 November 2008

Controversial plans to build a third runway at Heathrow may fall foul of EU pollution regulations with Commissioner Stavros Dimas vowing to take legal action. The European environment commissioner has warned he intends to take enforcement action if Britain breaches legally binding pollution limits by allowing Heathrow airport to expand.

Local councils are also threatening to launch legal challenges if ministers go ahead with expansion plans that are already opposed by many Labour MPs.

The warning from EU Commissioner Stravros Dimas comes after it emerged that Department for Transport (DfT) officials doubted their own proposed measures to reduce pollution. The DfT?s consultation paper on Heathrow expansion concealed concerns that mitigation measures might be "too costly or impractical to implement, or politically unacceptable".

Environment secretary Hilary Benn has promised not to "fudge" pollution limits in the new EU air quality directive but has confirmed that he intends to seek permission to delay their implementation for up to five years from 2010. Last month, Environment Agency chairman (Lord) Chris Smith criticised the government for seeking to increase flights at Heathrow during this time.

The DfT wants to use "mixed mode" operation ? using both existing runways for takeoff and landing at the same time ? to achieve 60,000 extra flights a year by 2015 in advance of a third runway. It has admitted that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits in the directive would be breached before 2015 but has pledged to deal with anticipated breaches after that date.

But the DfT's September 2007 risk register for Heathrow expansion shows that officials assessed as "high" the risk that measures to achieve this might not be deliverable. The document, obtained by Greenpeace under the Freedom of Information Act, also shows that officials doubted whether "radical mitigation measures might be justified for a relatively short period before things improve over time". This refers to disputed assumptions that cleaner aircraft and road vehicles will eventually provide the "headroom" for additional flights.

Commissioner Dimas has made clear that he expects Britain to comply with the directive as soon as it is implemented. His spokesperson told newstatesman.com: "We expect Member States to fully respect EU legislation. We will assess compliance [with] the NO2 limit value at the actual attainment date, and enforce it if necessary."

The DFT document also shows that officials intentionally gave a misleading "narrative" of measures to deal with anticipated breaches after 2015. It states that "possible mitigation measures are addressed as a narrative within condoc", a reference to the official consultation document, published two months later.

The consultation acknowledged that around 30 homes could experience illegally high levels of nitrogen dioxide during full mixed mode operation but listed possible mitigation measures, including lower speed limits, traffic management measures and surface treatments. It stated: "Although the improving trend in road vehicle emissions beyond 2015 means that any residual problems would be fully resolved by 2020, the air quality Directives will require the relevant limits to be met before then."

The consultation concluded that full mixed mode by 2015 would achievable within pollution limits if traffic management or other measures were implemented. Although it acknowledged that the effectiveness of surface treatments was "unproven", it did not reveal officials' belief that other measures might have to be ruled out for financial or political reasons or the suggestion that breaches of the directive might be ignored in the short term. Instead, it referred to "Government's overriding legal obligation to meet air quality limit values."

In March, the Environment Agency criticised the DfT's claims that "potential alternative measures" would bring pollution within legal limits. It stated: "Without firm plans and agreed measures we contend that the conclusion that the limit values can be met with full mixed mode cannot confidently be made." It is now clear that DfT officials also saw their own conclusion as wishful thinking.

Hillingdon Council, whose area includes Heathrow, is one of a number of councils that is preparing to challenge any decision in favour of expanding the airport, on the grounds that the DfT's environmental claims are flawed. Hillingdon councillor Keith Burrows, Cabinet member for Planning and Transportation said: "We will fight expansion at Heathrow all the way - if that means legal action then that's what we'll do. We do not believe that expansion, which will generate one million extra vehicle movements on roads around Heathrow, can go ahead within EU limits on nitrogen dioxide. The opposition to this expansion is overwhelming - enough is enough."

OUR COMMENT: We must remember that the same Directive protects vegetation as well as humans! This protection is not automatic within 5 Kms of a motorway but EU governments may impose these pollution limits. The UK government, so far, has not indicated that it is prepared to protect the unique ancient Forest, adjacent to Stansted Airport - namely Hatfield Forest - from further pollution.

Pat Dale


18 November 2008

FOOTNOTE! THE GRAVEYARD WHERE 'CREDIT CRUNCHED'
BUDGET AIRLINES SEND UNWANTED PASSENGER JETS

Niall Firth and David Wilkes - Daily Mail - 7 November 2008

They litter the airfield like so many discarded toys.

Many of these passenger jets are casualties of the credit crunch.

Some belonged to XL Airways, the low-cost airline which ceased operation in September, leaving 85,000 holidaymakers stranded across the world.

A total of 26 planes are being kept at Lasham Airfield after their airlines went bust

Three XL airlines and three Aero Airways planes lie unused on the tarmac

Others pictured here at Lasham airfield near Basingstoke, Hampshire, belonged to Futura International Airways, a small operator based in Majorca which was particularly prominent at major airports in Scotland.

It was declared bankrupt in September. Yet more used to fly for the transatlantic budget carrier Zoom, which in August suspended all its flights after failing to pay its bills.

The planes are being stored until they are either sold off or used for scrap

In all, 11 of the aircraft in this picture are credit-crunch victims with the rest there for work by the ATC independent aircraft maintenance company.

ATC says all 11 are owned by leasing companies which are now seeking to home them with new operators.


8 November 2008

STANSTED INQUIRY TO BE RUSHED THROUGH
TO FOIL RUNWAY CRITICS

Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 1 November 2008

The public inquiry into a second runway at Stansted is to be completed in record time in an attempt by the Government to prevent the Conservatives cancelling the project if they win the next general election. For the first time, a significant planning inquiry will be heard in two separate rooms at the same time.

Opponents of the new runway say that their arguments will not be heard properly because they can afford just one barrister. BAA, the Spanish-owned airport company seeking to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow is today, is expected to have five barristers.

The Conservatives have said that they would refuse planning permission for the 2.3 billion new runway and terminal, which would add capacity for an extra 40 million passengers a year at Stansted.

The expansion would result in the loss of 35 historic buildings, including 13 that are Grade II listed, and the destruction of two scheduled ancient monuments. The number of flights would more than double to 490,000 a year and the airport would expand to take up three more square miles of countryside.

The inquiry, which starts on April 15, had been expected to take 18 months, meaning that the inspector's report would not have been handed to ministers for a decision until well after June 3, 2010, the last possible date for an election.

The inquiry into Heathrow Terminal 5, which is between the existing two runways on the site of an old sewage works, took almost four years despite involving no loss of historic buildings or countryside.

Ministers intervened last year to put pressure on the planning inspectorate to accelerate an earlier inquiry into expanding the number of flights using Stansted's existing runway. The inspector said during that inquiry: "Ministers are taking a very keen interest in this matter and they have asked for my report by Christmas, which is considerably earlier than it would normally be."

A source close to next year's inquiry said that there was strong pressure from the Government for the report to be delivered in the shortest possible time.

A spokesman for Stop Stansted Expansion said: "The intention to rush this through the inquiry process in the space of six months is quite simply outrageous. The local community's ability to participate fully in the inquiry will be severely compromised by the plan to have parallel sessions examining different subjects in different inquiry rooms at the same time."

"Both BAA and the Government know full well that this approach will make it impossible for SSE and others to keep abreast of all the evidence and to cross-examine BAA on all its evidence." The spokesman added that a challenge could be brought under European law, which enshrines the right to public participation in the decision-making process. The group will urge the inspector to revise the schedule at a preinquiry meeting scheduled for November 10.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "New rules were brought in to prevent planning inquiries from dragging on for years and forcing local voices out because of unnecessary delays... The detailed timing and process of inquiries is a matter for the independent inspector, who will make recommendations to ministers in due course, having considered all the evidence from parties."


8 November 2008

GORDON BROWN WILL GIVE GREEN LIGHT
TO EXPAND HEATHROW WITHIN WEEKS

Gordon Brown will approve a third runway at Heathrow within weeks, brushing aside opposition from Labour MPs and the Conservatives

James Kirkup and Andrew Porter - The Telegraph - 1 November 2008

The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Prime Minister and Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, believe that quickly approving a new runway is vital to Britain's future economic competitiveness. The decision will be announced before the end of the year, and could come as soon as next month.

The move would please business leaders but outrage environmentalists who say it would encourage more flights and increase Britain's carbon emissions. Some west London residents, who fear more aircraft noise, are also strongly opposed.

The Tories have also said they reject the new runway, arguing instead for a high-speed rail link from London to the north of England. The Tory stance has angered business leaders and some Labour strategists see an opportunity to put pressure on the opposition by backing a new runway.

However, Labour is far from united over Heathrow's future. At least 38 Labour backbenchers have signed a Commons motion opposing a new runway. Downing Street on Wednesday also admitted that some ministers have expressed reservations about the plan after receiving complaints from constituents.

Ann Keen a junior health minister who represents a west London constituency has publicly declared her opposition to expanding the airport and Cabinet ministers including Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, are said to have doubts about the plan.

But senior Government figures insist the new runway will not be stopped. A source close to the Prime Minister said: "The Tories are in the wrong place on this. Airport expansion is vital to Britain's interests and we understand that, which is why we believe Heathrow has to be expanded."

A Cabinet minister added: "Talk of a revolt is wide of the mark. There are always discussions but this is one policy that we have to show that we are on the side of business."

Earlier this month, Mr Hoon told the Daily Telegraph that international firms like Microsoft could leave Britain if Heathrow does not expand to deliver a better and more reliable service, costing thousands of British jobs.

The Department for Transport estimates that Heathrow is operating at 98.5 per cent of its capacity with almost no delay between flights taking off and landing. That means that even minor incidents quickly lead to major delays, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

Mr Hoon is understood to believe that unless that situation is resolved, international travellers will quickly desert Heathrow in favour of other European "hub" airports like Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris.

The Commons motion opposing the new runway has been tabled by John Grogan, a Labour backbencher who says he has the private support of several ministers. His motion has been backed by both Tory and Lib Dem MPs and now has 95 signatures in all.

The Conservatives have been openly attacked by Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, for opposing a third runway, but David Cameron's party insist that Heathrow expansion would do unjustifiable harm.


8 November 2008

THIRD RUNWAY AT HEATHROW
WOULD WRECK CLIMATE TARGET

Marie Woolf, Whitehall Editor - Sunday Times - 2 November 2008

Gordon Brown has been warned by senior ministers that approving a third runway at Heathrow could wreck the government's green credentials and undermine efforts to combat climate change.

Weeks before a formal announcement on expanding the airport is due, the prime minister is facing a revolt from the cabinet and senior MPs. They fear building the runway could harm the party's electoral prospects and damage Britain's chances of hitting its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Among the critics is Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, who has been told that residents angry at the increased noise and congestion could eject a clutch of the party's MPs in west London at the next election.

Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, has expressed concerns that Britain may not meet European Union air quality targets because of extra traffic at an expanded Heathrow.

Britain is three years behind European requirements for cutting emissions and may have to sacrifice pollution standards across London to allow at least an extra 60,000 flights a year at Heathrow. Benn, who lives under the Heathrow flight path in west London, has warned that the government may have to ask Brussels for a special deal to exempt the capital from official limits on exposure to pollutants.

David Miliband, the foreign secretary, who championed tough climate change measures when he was environment secretary, is also understood to be worried about the effect on greenhouse gas emissions of an expanded Heathrow airport.

Joan Ruddock, the climate change minister and London MP, is said to share concerns that the targets may be in jeopardy. Other local MPs opposed to the scheme include Ann Keen, the health minister, and Andrew Slaughter.

The prime minister is due to meet a group of Labour MPs in Downing Street in the next fortnight to discuss fears that the expansion is so unpopular it could cost the seats of members nearest the airport.

At least 100 MPs from all parties, including 38 on the Labour benches, have signed a parliamentary motion opposing the third runway.

Among those who have made representations to Brown is Martin Salter, an MP who is vice-chairman of the Labour party with responsibility for the environment. He has told the prime minister that allowing the runway could harm Labour's green credentials. Salter said: "It is clear Gordon is in listening mode from the interest he has shown in hearing all points of view."

The prime minister's spokesman said Brown had made up his mind in principle that the expansion should go ahead. "The government has taken a political decision that it is right to go for a third runway at Heathrow but now it is going to be a planning judicial decision subject to very stringent environmental concerns," said the spokesman. "We have taken the decision in principle. It is now a planning decision."

David Cameron, the Conservative party leader, has announced that a Tory government would tear up plans for a third runway. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, wants to build a hub airport in the Thames estuary.


8 November 2008

UK INDUSTRIES TO BE FORCED TO CUT CO2 EMISSIONS

Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent - The Telegraph - 29 October 2008

British industries will be forced to make larger cuts in their carbon emissions due to the inclusion of aviation in new laws to stop climate change, it has been claimed. The Climate Change Bill will commit the UK to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050.

At first the legislation did not include emissions from international aviation and shipping, causing outrage among green groups. However in the face of a backbench rebellion, Joan Ruddock, the climate change minister, yesterday agreed to include emissions from the industry in the Bill.

The law will now require the Government to take account of projected emissions from aviation and shipping when setting the five yearly budgets. However it will not force the industry to make particular cuts because as yet there is no way to measure accurately each country's contribution to international transport emissions.

Ms Ruddock said: "The fact is we are saying we will have due regard, as the committee recommended, to the emissions from aviation and shipping but we cannot account for them domestically at this present time."

Steve Webb, the Lib Dem spokesman on climate change, said other industries that will be subject to accounting will have to increase carbon cuts in order to meet the budgets because the target will become much tighter having taken emissions from aviation into account.

He said: "You [Ms Ruddock] have just said it's very unlikely that we will be able to get aviation emissions down by 80 per cent by 2050, so the rest of the economy takes a hit on carbon because we are not going to get very tough on aviation. Surely it's time that policies like Stansted expansion and Heathrow expansion came to the top of the Government's agenda, then we might stand a better chance."

Ms Ruddock said emissions from aviation will be included in the budgets by 2012 or an explanation will be laid before Parliament explaining why not.

John Gummer, Tory former environment secretary, welcomed the addition of shipping and aviation in the Bill but said they should be backed up with other action.

He told Ms Ruddock: "If you had come to this House to announce that there would be no third runway at Heathrow, that the ridiculous proposal to expand Stansted would in fact not go ahead, then the House would have seen that the Government was doing those things that it could do in advance of having achieved the international arrangements which are necessary."

Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth, welcomed the changes to the Bill. "Developing a low carbon economy here in the UK is the only way to deliver on the law, move Britain out of recession and into a greener more prosperous future."

OUR COMMENT: Why is aviation so privileged? Mrs Ruddock might also have confessed that her government wishes to allow these same aviation emissions to be set against low emitters in the undeveloped world ? a modern version of exploitation.

Pat Dale


1 November 2008

GOOD NEWS THIS WEEK
MPS SUPPORT TOUGH BILL ON CO2 REPORTING

Alex Barker and Fiona Harvey - Financial Times - 29 October 2008

Mid-sized companies face mandatory reporting of their carbon emissions from 2012 after MPs on Tuesday night passed sweeping legislation setting ambitious targets to tackle climate change.

The climate change bill, approved by a clear Commons majority, commits Britain to slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, in what is the world's first legally binding national emissions reduction target.

The measures passed relatively smoothly after the government defused controversy through a series of critical concessions to placate backbenchers and environmental campaigners.

Most significantly, ministers halted a growing revolt over the proposed exemption of aviation and shipping from the targets by saying the sectors would be "taken into account" once a method of measuring "international" emissions was found.

Ed Miliband, energy secretary, also gave ground by raising the emissions reduction target from 60 to 80 per cent and including all six of the main greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide.

The law places new responsibilities on large and medium-sized companies to disclose their carbon emissions and sets out a process for establishing more rigorous common reporting standards. It does not define exactly how big a company has to be to fall within the rules.

Under the bill, corporate reporting will be mandated from 2012. But before then ministers plan to review how it should be implemented and will retain the power to introduce a voluntary scheme, if that is considered more effective. A consultation will also begin on whether smaller businesses should face the same reporting requirements.

Many companies already disclose their carbon dioxide output, either under existing regulations or voluntarily. Heavy industry covered by the European Union's emissions trading scheme must monitor their discharges, while thousands of retail outlets, banks and other commercial premises will have to begin emissions trading from 2010 under government regulations called the "carbon reduction commitment".

Joan Ruddock, minister for energy and climate change, said the move would be valuable to shareholders by allowing companies to demonstrate "their green credentials".

The CBI employers' organisation welcomed the move. Neil Bentley, director of business environment, said reporting would help provide "a clear picture of... environmental impact" to company stakeholders. But he added: "There will inevitably be a cost associated with mandating carbon reporting and that is why it is so important that a simple and standard method is devised."

The inclusion of aviation and shipping in the emissions targets was attacked by the airline industry. Michelle Di Leo, director of the pro-aviation group FlyingMatters, described it as a "hollow victory" for environmentalists that was both "ineffective and unfair".

Companies should find it easier to put carbon labels on their products with the publication of a new standard on Wednesday.

The government has worked with BSI British Standards to create a labelling formula, by which companies can work out the emissions resulting from the manufacture of their goods.

OUR COMMENT: Congratulations to all MPs who supported this Bill, and to all the organisations and the many individual members of the public who have told the government that they want Action as well as words.

Pat Dale


1 November 2008

THE BAD NEWS...
FLAWED PLANS

New legislation that will strip people of their right to question big developments could be in direct conflict with green policies

Hugh Ellis - The Guardian - 29 October 2008

The existing system for approving or turning down major infrastructure projects such as runways, ports and power stations is far from perfect, but it has long been based on the public inquiry. This gives people the right to attend a public hearing, to give evidence, to cross-examine, and to call witnesses. A professional inspector listens, assesses, and then reports to government. An elected minister, accountable to parliament, makes the final decision.

However, the planning bill now going through parliament, and due to become law in a few weeks, will remove all of these rights and safeguards. The law will mean that a new body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), will usually make all decisions without public hearings. Government-appointed commissioners will decide whether any part of the process will be heard in public. They will decide which witnesses are heard and who can cross-examine. The public retains only one right: an "open floor" session, at which ordinary people cannot ask questions or cross-examine.

Undemocratic

It is deeply undemocratic, it marginalises communities, and it does nothing to tackle climate change, yet the government has so far shown no willingness to compromise on its contents. For airport owners such as BAA and industry backers such as the CBI, this is a cause for celebration. But for many watchdog groups, it is a profound constitutional issue.

In fact, planning will be in two parts. The government will publish up to 12 "policy" statements covering everything from roads to nuclear power, aviation and ports. These will set out what sort of developments should happen. When making a decision, the IPC will have to take these into account. Only limited objections will be admissible on local grounds. So, for instance, no one will be able to question the location of a new nuclear power station, or safety and technical issues.

There is no constitutional precedent for the IPC. It will have powers over legislation, and can grant consent orders that remove all other forms of environmental regulation at a stroke. You will no longer be able to complain about the noise of development to your local council because the IPC consent order removes local authority powers to pursue a statutory nuisance.

Sensible reform would at least have balanced the powers of the IPC with democratic safeguards, but the decisions taken by the IPC are not directly accountable to anyone. As a result, it is hard to see how they will ever be accepted as legitimate. For instance, the decision over whether to demolish thousands of houses for the third runway at Heathrow is ultimately a political judgment. The public accept these judgments when made by democratically elected politicians, but not when they are made by a group of technocrats who cannot be held accountable.

The government has argued that the commission will have to report to parliament, but this provides a check only on the overall operation of the IPC; it does nothing to secure the accountability of individual decisions. Ministers have also countered that a new duty on developers to organise consultation on their own applications provides important opportunities for public engagement.

How are members of the public meant to have confidence in a consultation process for a new runway at Stansted, say, if the process is run by BAA?

The government has made much of the need to remove cross-examination in order to speed up the process. But cross-examination is an indispensable way of testing expert evidence. "Expert" testimony is often, in practice, simply an advocacy statement on behalf of one side or another. Only by allowing participants the chance to question such evidence can you test whether it stands up. It is not as if this expert testimony will be trivial in relation to hazardous waste or a nuclear power station.

The government has also argued that the bill is vital to deliver the technology to tackle climate change. In fact, there are no duties even to think about climate change issues. Neither does the climate bill create any legal obligation on the IPC, a non-governmental body, to consider climate issues.

There is a major and dangerous implementation gap between the climate bill and the planning bill, which could result in approval being given to major projects that undermine the government's carbon targets.

The government has been very keen to portray all these concerns as an anti-development conspiracy. This is not the case. All participants have to accept decisions made in a fair and democratic way. The problem is that the planning bill assumes that taking people out of the process will speed it up, despite a complete lack of evidence that this is true. We should be able to generate consensus about the process, even if we disagree passionately about the outcomes.

The new regime will force moderate environmental opinion to choose between legal challenge and direct action, and the bill will generate both on an unprecedented scale.

The UK must take long-term infrastructure decisions to achieve sustainable development and, in particular, a competitive low-carbon economy. The decision-making on major infrastructure should be made more efficient, but not at the expense of proper scrutiny, accountability and public engagement.

It has to be one of the great ironies of political life that only the unelected chamber still has the opportunity to defend democratic planning. We can only hope the Lords seize the opportunity to preserve a system that gives communities a real voice and sets us on course to creating a low-carbon society

OUR COMMENT: There is still time to write to your MP and make YOUR views clear. Once again the government is sending out contradictory messages, consulting the community on all new policies, yet now apparently failing to take any notice of the views of the majority and, in this case, actually removing the present right to make comments on major public issues in a reasonable and fair way that has been developed through the existing planning system, and which, in most cases, does enable a decision to be reached that is fair to all. "Rome was not built in a day" ? as the saying goes - the plebs played their part over several centuries, with both votes and riots, and we have all benefited from the development of a democratic system of government. Apparently not all in government have learned from the past experiences from dictatorial measures.

Pat Dale


1 November 2008

AFTER OIL, FALLING TRAFFIC IS THE NEXT CRISIS

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 29 October 2008

In the airline world one crisis soon replaces another. The sharp decline in fuel prices is bringing some relief to the world's hard-pressed carriers, many of which were fighting for survival in the summer because of the record oil prices. But the gains on the fuel front are being offset by falling traffic volumes, as recession looms in some of the biggest air travel markets.

The global aviation map is changing and consolidation accelerating as weaker airlines collapse. More than 30 have gone this year, says Iata, the airline industry trade association; 20 more are on the watchlist. Airlines managers are grounding aircraft to cut capacity.

Germany's Lufthansa, the main predator in Europe, on Wednesday announced its long-awaited takeover of BMI British Midland, only hours after Danish low cost carrier Sterling Airlines said it was filing for bankruptcy.

Financial turmoil and the job losses in the banking sector are taking their toll, especially on business travel, the key profit generator for many of the world's traditional network carriers. The credit squeeze is forcing up the price of financing new aircraft, where funds are still available. The strengthening of the dollar against the euro and the pound is eroding some of the gains from the falling dollar price of fuel, especially for European carriers.

Gerard Arpey, chairman and chief executive of American Airlines says while fuel prices have fallen from record levels a few months ago "the economic uncertainty, and what that might mean for travel demand, is a serious concern." Fuel prices remain volatile, and he says it would be "short-sighted" to conclude fuel costs are no longer a challenge.

Some countries that were performing most strongly are leading the way down. Airline traffic in India fell 19 per cent in September. Air China reported September passenger traffic volumes down by 7.9 per cent.

Indian carriers, hurt by some of the world's highest jet fuel taxes, face such high losses that they are scrambling to consolidate after the wild years of expansion and have been forced to seek a deal with the government to delay paying overdue fuel bills. Rivals Jet Airways and Kingfisher have been forced into an alliance.

In Europe, even airlines with contrasting business models such as British Airways and Ryanair have, in a matter of months, gone from record profits to barely breaking even. Air France-KLM, the world's largest airline by revenues, and Lufthansa, the number two European player, are the latest to issue profit warnings.

The squeeze is forcing the pace of regional consolidation. Lufthansa is busiest with Brussels Airlines and BMI in the bag and stakes in Austrian Airlines, Alitalia and possibly SAS in its sights. BA is negotiating a merger with Spain's Iberia, although the plunge in the UK carrier's share price and worries about the size of its pension deficit could torpedo the deal. Air France-KLM is bidding against Lufthansa for a minority stake in a restructured Alitalia.

Consolidation is a particular feature in the US. Delta Air Lines says it is on track to complete its takeover of Northwest Airlines by the end of this year to create the biggest North American carrier.

US carriers have led the way in reducing capacity drastically for the coming winter. The cuts were forced originally by the surge in oil prices in the first half of the year; US carriers have on average the oldest fleets among airlines in the developed economies. The oil price has fallen from a July peak of $147 to about $60 a barrel but the capacity reductions remain timely given the falling demand for air travel.

As the crisis deepens, the lines of older aircraft parked in the US deserts are growing for the first time since 2005. Since June, the world's airlines have announced, and begun to implement, a fleet reduction programme that already accounts for 1,083 aircraft, or 5 per cent of the global fleet, according to Ascend, the aviation consultancy.

About 75 per cent of fleet reductions are occurring in North America, where the airlines are cutting 10 per cent of their capacity, according to Eddy Pieniazek, Ascend director. Europe is cutting under 3 per cent of its capacity to date and Asia 2 per cent. Ascend says there are no discernible cuts yet in the Middle East, which is still building its fleet and targeting capacity growth.

Airlines are inevitably uncertain as to the depth and the length of the coming recession. But Giovanni Bisignani, director general of Iata, says the sharp decline in passenger and cargo traffic in September is "alarming" and for the time being it is outpacing industry actions to cut capacity.

Aircraft values and lease rates are also falling, a sure sign of the mounting troubles. "We are only just beginning to see the impact of the economic slowdown and the financial crisis on aircraft values and lease rates," says Mr Pieniazek.

According to Ascend, lease rates for out of production narrow body jets have fallen by 20 per cent since the middle of the year, while rates for short-haul jets in production are down by 10 per cent. Overall aircraft values have fallen by 5 to 10 per cent.

Airbus and Boeing are preparing to step in as lenders of last resort to support selected sales during the coming year, as airlines find access difficult to some traditional sources of finance for buying new jets. Export credit agencies in the US and Europe are under pressure to fill more of the funding gap.

A leading European aviation banker says the number of institutions offering finance for new commercial jet deliveries has fallen by more than half to no more than 25.

Despite the rapid fall in fuel prices since July, Iata is maintaining its forecast for the global industry to fall to a net loss of $5.2bn this year. Mr Bisignani says the drop in the oil price is not enough to offset the impact of the drop in demand. "At this rate, losses may be even deeper than our forecast $5.2bn for this year."

In the six years to 2006, the global airline industry suffered net losses of $42bn and only returned to a $5.6bn profit in 2007. According to Mr Bisignani "the industry crisis is deepening along with the crisis in the global economy."

More than 30 airlines have collapsed and been removed from the industry's international payment settlement system this year and a further 20 are on the watchlist for suspension.

Paddy Power, the leading Irish bookmaker, made tens of thousands of euros during September offering odds on the next airline to go bust. It took heavy bets on XL Airways, the UK charter carrier, which came in from a 10-1 outsider to a 4-6 odds on favourite in the days before its collapse.

According to Iata, passenger traffic declined by 2.9 per cent year-on-year in September, while cargo traffic, a key early indicator of the state of the world economy, fell by 7.7 per cent.

"The deterioration in traffic is alarmingly fast-paced and widespread," says Mr Bisignani. The decline in passenger volumes was the worst since 2003, when the industry was hit by the Sars epidemic.

Air cargo accounts for 35 per cent of the value of internationally traded goods and the 7.7 per cent fall in September was the biggest monthly year-on-year decline since the bursting of the technology bubble in 2001.

OUR COMMENT: Were all these routes, often duplicated, really necessary to provide a reasonable air transport service? Or the best way to do it, both from the point of view of the passenger, business or recreational, and the environmental damage? We have a proper route structure for buses and trains, recognized routes and licensing of operators. Now we are faced by crowded skies and a pressing need for safety reasons to revise air "highways", it is surely time to rationalize air transport routes and stop this free for all. An Air Transport Commission would be a better proposal than one for planning!

Pat Dale


28 October 2008

LOW-CARBON ECONOMY NOT A LUXURY

Viewpoint, Elliot Morley - BBC News - 22 October 2008

The low-carbon economy is an integral part of economic recovery, not a luxurious extra, says Elliot Morley, president of GLOBE International. In this week's Green Room, he sets out the reasons why the current financial crisis offers a unique opportunity for us to clean up our act.

Does the G8 have the political will to make a low-carbon economy a reality?

The world's focus is rightly on the turmoil in the financial markets and the global economic slowdown.

Some commentators, indeed some politicians, have used the deteriorating economic circumstances to argue that tackling climate change through the transition to a low-carbon economy is a luxury item; saying it is too expensive, could damage competitiveness, and should be a secondary political objective. This is an understandable view but, in my opinion, it is short-sighted.

The global economy and the climate system are linked and the current slowdown represents a unique opportunity to use public sector investment to kick-start the economy and build the low-carbon infrastructure we need for our long-term prosperity. The low-carbon economy is an integral part of economic recovery, not an optional bolt on.

'Unique opportunity'

Some economists are arguing that in order to kick-start the economy, governments will need to invest in major infrastructure projects to help stimulate demand in the economy, increase investment and create jobs.

We need that same political will to tackle the economic slowdown to tackle the twin challenges of climate and energy security.

This presents us with a unique opportunity to create the low-carbon infrastructure we need for our future prosperity, such as more renewable energy generation, better public transport networks, smarter and more flexible electricity grids, "retrofitting" buildings to increase energy efficiency, and a network of pipelines to carry captured CO2 from fossil fuel power plants to storage sites under the North Sea.

This investment in infrastructure, together with policies to structure financial and industrial markets to deliver social and environmental goods, would help reignite the economy, reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and improve energy and climate security.

The political will has been found to stabilise the banking crisis. Now we need that same political will to tackle the economic slowdown to tackle the twin challenges of climate and energy security.

So, what are the building blocks required to generate the political support to drive economic investment into a low-carbon future?

Firstly, we need a global political agreement on how to tackle climate change beyond 2012. Most eyes are focusing on the UN meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 for a settlement.

However, if negotiations are to be successful, the political conditions must be created beforehand. The Italian G8 Summit next July is a key milestone.

Prime Minister Berlusconi has a chance to demonstrate real leadership by urging world leaders to agree the shape of a post-2012 deal and to do so against a backdrop of challenging economic conditions.

And it is crucial that the major emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa are given an equal seat at the negotiating table.

We can use the clout of the world's biggest markets to drive innovation around the world.

Emerging economies will only be persuaded to take part in the transition to a low-carbon economy if we begin the discussion by recognising their new position in the world.

EU leadership is critical and it was heartening last week to see the EU Council reaffirm its determination to meet its self-imposed ambitious emissions reduction targets, and the UK's new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change commit the UK to 80% emissions cuts from 1990 levels by 2050.

When I was in Beijing earlier this year, the members of the National People's Congress I met told me that the EU's targets had significant influence on Chinese decision-makers. This ambition must not be allowed to slip if we are to be successful in Copenhagen.

Secondly, we need a global carbon market. Having a significant price on carbon is the single most efficient way of driving CO2 out of the economy.

The EU's Emission Trading Scheme is the foundation for this. We now need to link this to markets emerging in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

And, as recommended by GLOBE's working group on market mechanisms, in the context of the financial turmoil and the focus on market regulation, we must ensure that the global carbon market is regulated by an independent body with the authority and transparency to build confidence and ensure integrity.

Thirdly, the price on carbon must be backed with regulation and innovative financing to drive global investment into clean technology.

By setting ambitious efficiency standards on new appliances, buildings and technology, we can use the clout of the world's biggest markets to drive innovation around the world.

These actions do not just reduce emissions. They have huge economic benefits. By driving investment into clean technology and diversifying our energy resources we can help reduce the inflationary pressures and price volatility of oil, while creating jobs in all sectors from design and manufacturing, to engineering, IT and consultancy.

The benefits would not simply be felt in the developed world. Developing countries have a lot to gain too. As host nations for emissions reduction projects in the carbon market they can attract inward investment into clean energy, along with technology and skills transfer from developed countries.

Fresh thinking

As manufacturing centres for the clean technologies needed around the world, developing countries can create the jobs and wealth needed to develop their economies along a low-carbon path. Blue sky thinking, not fossil fuel dependent polices, is needed.

China is an obvious example. It is already the global manufacturing centre for wind turbines, a vast number of which are deployed in wind farms on its own soil. It is here we can begin to see some links between the environmental and financial crises.

It is the world's biggest carbon emitter, it holds vast reserves of wealth but, although so far it has been shielded from the financial turmoil, orders for its various manufacturing centres are set to fall as a result of the slowing demand from the industrialised nations. This means that China too is likely to feel the downturn, but herein lies the opportunity.

China, and other countries with reserves of sovereign wealth, could invest in low-carbon as a way of reinvigorating the global economy which, in turn, will reinvigorate their own.

We have recently seen a smaller scale example with Abu Dhabi investing in a 20% share in the Thames Array wind farm. This is a sensible move from oil producing countries, diversifying their investments into the future global energy infrastructure and contributing to lower emissions.

It is an example other oil producers should follow and demonstrates that a post-2012 treaty is an opportunity for oil producers, not a threat as some currently perceive.

To help create the right political conditions for success in Copenhagen, GLOBE is launching an International Commission on Climate and Energy Security.

The Commission will comprise of senior legislators from G8 countries and the major emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa to identify the most difficult domestic obstacles, and to explore in-depth, as well as politically test, the specific outcomes required from the G8 summit.

The work of these legislators gives me great hope that G8 leaders will rise to the challenge in Italy next year and help prepare the ground for an ambitious and effective post-2012 agreement to tackle climate change.

Such an agreement is not just necessary to protect our climate but also to provide a framework within which we can kick-start our economies, create jobs and secure our future prosperity.

Elliot Morley is president of GLOBE International and was the UK prime minister's special representative to the G8's Gleneagles Dialogue


28 October 2008

ON OUR PRESENT COURSE, THE BOLD NEW
CARBON TARGET IS WORTHLESS

Leader - The Observer - 19 October 2008

The decision by Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change minister, to commit Britain to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 is welcome. Recent research has made it clear that the government's previous target of a 60% reduction would be insufficient to help halt profound climate change this century. New measures were required.

But we should note that setting goals is the easy part of fighting global warming, implementing them is harder. The point is demonstrated in the report in The Observer today on Britain's wind energy programme. This is supposed to ensure that a third of all UK electricity is generated by onshore and offshore turbines by 2020. But it is now facing collapse, a victim of rising costs, planning blockages and poor investment. Government action is falling well short of its rhetoric.

The failure to insist that carbon capture devices be fitted to the proposed new coal-fired power plant at Kingsnorth provides another example. Without such machinery, vast amounts of carbon dioxide will be pumped into the atmosphere, making nonsense of the UK's commitment to combat global warming. Transport policy is similarly unenlightened. The government backs motorway construction schemes and continues to call for cuts in petrol prices, ignoring the environmental implications. It also refuses to include aviation fuel in its climate change calculations - as if ignoring its consumption means it will no longer be heating the planet. Likewise a commitment to the expansion of UK airports seriously undermines our claim to be climate change champions.

The government must establish a consistent attitude to global warming and back this with significant investments. It should provide an electricity grid that can carry power from remote wind turbines to cities, develop a wave and tidal power energy programme that will take advantage of our marine expertise and create carbon capture schemes that will allow us to build a new generation of coal power plants.

It is also clear that the world's current economic crisis provides no excuse for failing to make proper investments and hard political decisions. The 2006 report by Sir Nicholas Stern showed the costs of acting will be vastly outweighed by the costs of not acting. The government must therefore be resolute - and consistent.


28 October 2008

MPS REBELLING OVER CLIMATE BILL

BBC News - 23 October 2008

The government has committed to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.

The government is fighting to head off a backbench rebellion over its plans to exclude aviation and shipping from the UK's greenhouse gas targets.

They are being left out because there is no system for sharing responsibility for international emissions.

Fifty-six Labour MPs are demanding the sectors be included, enough to defeat Gordon Brown when the Climate Change Bill goes to a Commons' vote next week.

Campaigners say it is "unfair" to give the sectors "special treatment".

Friends of the Earth said a climate change law which left out emissions from planes and ships was like "a drink-driving law that doesn't count whisky".

'Acid test'

Last week, Climate Change and Energy Secretary Ed Miliband announced a government commitment to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.

But that did not include emissions from international flights and shipping after the government-commissioned Turner Report said it would be too difficult to share out responsibility for the gases they produce between different countries.

Rebel MPs now say they want that decision overturned.

They want an amendment to the Climate Change Bill to state that if emissions from aviation and shipping continue to grow, the government must compensate with extra CO2 cuts elsewhere.

"This law is a world first - we now need to make sure it's world-class" - Nigel Griffiths MP

BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin said he understood ministers may be about to concede that principle, but will insist there is still uncertainty about how to account for international emissions.

The amendment was tabled by Edinburgh South MP Nigel Griffiths, who said he was "very encouraged" by discussions he has had with Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock.

'World first'

"Addressing issues of aviation and marine shipping emissions is now the acid test of the government's aim to achieve a genuine reduction in CO2 emissions," he said.

"This law is a world first - we now need to make sure it's world-class."

Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said: "Giving special treatment to the shipping and aviation industries is unfair and doesn't make sense. Ed Miliband has promised he will deal with emissions from planes and ships, but voluntary commitments are not enough. This pledge needs to be set in law - only then will the public have confidence that this and future governments are going to deliver."


28 October 2008

SIMON CALDER: TICKETS AS CHEAP AS FLIP-FLOPS
- BUT FLYING FATIGUE HAS SET IN

The Independent - 18 October 2008

Six months is an age in aviation. In March, The Independent revealed that Britain's then-flourishing airlines planned no fewer than 100 new routes for the summer. They sought to capitalise on our apparently insatiable appetite for seeing the world, preferably on the cheap. Since the end of the Second World War, our desire to fly has shown a relentless upward trajectory, abetted in the past decade by the remarkable expansion in low-cost aviation.

But as my colleague Martin Hickman reported in The Independent on Sunday last weekend, the no-frills revolution has begun to go into reverse. Nearly one million fewer passengers used the main UK airports last month compared with September 2007. This year will see the first drop in passenger numbers since the early 1990s.

Airlines and airport operators can find plenty of culprits to blame. Demand has been hit by the squeeze on consumer spending and a loss of confidence following high-profile failures such as Zoom and XL Airways. Sterling's slump against the US currency is pushing up costs for every UK airline; most of their costs are denominated in dollars. When they raise fares to compensate, some buyers inevitably vanish.

The availability of low-cost flights to destinations familiar and outlandish can stimulate long-term demand: our national fondness for buying property abroad sustains routes such as Manchester to Malaga and Stansted to Carcassonne. But the puny pound means the purchase of second homes is tailing off.

Concerns about the environment, combined with improved Eurostar services, have persuaded some travellers to switch to trains for Continental journeys; the current problems arising from the recent Channel Tunnel fire will prove little more than a blip in the long-term rail upswing that began with the opening of the high-speed line from London St Pancras last November. By December, when work on the West Coast main line to London Euston is completed, travellers from Birmingham and Manchester will have better access to Continental rail travel, with three fast trains every hour.

I suspect, though, that the main reason for the downturn in flying is that is that some of us have had enough of going on bargain, but often superficial, short breaks.

Consider why passenger numbers have increased so sharply over the past few years. Cheap flights to places you can neither spell nor find on the map have persuaded some travellers to regard flying as an impulse purchase. A big worry for Britain's aviation industry is that the impulse that will prove as flaky as our fascination with Dresden, Poznan and Sarajevo - some of the routes to be axed by BA next weekend.

When Stelios founded easyJet in 1995, he boasted of making air travel "as cheap as a pair of jeans". Since his revolutionary 29 offer between Luton and Scotland, fares have fallen even lower. This winter, flying will be as cheap as a pair of flip-flops on some routes, with Ryanair selling seats from 3 November to 17 December for 10 - which only covers Air Passenger Duty.

When fares approach zero, economic theory suggests demand should soar - yet many of these almost-free seats will remain empty. Visiting a unprepossessing city in Eastern Europe, though, has limited appeal, even when you can fly there for 10. That is why some Ryanair pilots have been told to take a week's unpaid leave.

Travellers are now well aware of the extra costs of any journey by air. Some are financial - from airport parking to exorbitantly priced inflight snacks. Others are intangible but important: time squandered and stress accumulated in the tiresome business of boarding a plane.

Coincidentally, this month we have started a new approach to our long-running 48 Hours city-break series: instead of recommending quick, cheap hits, we strongly suggest readers stay longer in a region, perhaps taking in three great cities over a seven-day break. Last week, Venice; today, Rome; next week, Naples - easily connected with a pair of appealing train journeys.

Plenty of folk will celebrate the apparent weakening of our addiction to what some call "binge flying"; people involved in UK tourism, and lovers of the planet. for example. But anyone working for an airport or airline is in for a long, cold winter.


28 October 2008

A THOUGHT FOR THE FUTURE?
HEALTH TRUST TO SUE HEATHROW OVER EXPANSION

Benedict Moore-Bridger - Evening Standard - 21 October 2008

A HEALTHCARE trust has threatened to claim millions of pounds in compensation from BAA if a third runway at Heathrow goes ahead, leaked documents reveal today.

Minutes from an internal board meeting show how Hounslow Primary Care Trust has objected to the proposals for expansion, claiming an increase in activity would put an undue burden on their resources.

The Trust said if the plans went ahead it would work with the local council and the NHS to push for the compensation as a result of illnesses caused by increased airport activity.

The PCT cited increases in asthma, mental health problems and even a rise in the death toll and hospital admissions for people with existing heart and respiratory problems because of airport noise and pollution.

Other problems included added pressure on local health services from an increase in passengers, it was claimed.

The money could be used for soundproofing buildings and monitoring pollution levels and help towards the extra strain on services.


15 October 2008

TORIES URGE BAA TO ABANDON PROJECT
FOR 160M SECOND STANSTED RUNWAY

Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 13 October 2008

The Conservative party has urged BAA to abandon a 160m planning application for a second runway at Stansted Airport after warning that the project would be scrapped by a Tory government.

Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, also warned any company considering working on the proposed third runway at Heathrow to think 'very, very carefully' before signing contracts related to the scheme. The Tories have pledged to replace a new runway at Britain's largest airport with a high-speed rail network.

BAA's planning application for a new runway at Stansted will be heard at a public inquiry early next year and the final verdict on the project is expected in 2010 - around the time of a general election that the Conservatives remain favourites to win. Asked today what advice she had for BAA on its Stansted application, Villiers said: 'I would advise them to drop it.' She added: 'We do not want a second runway at Stansted.'

BAA has invested 160m in plans for a second runway at Stansted, comprised of the 80m acquisition of 73 homes due to be demolished if the runway goes ahead and a further 80m on drawing up the application - which is contained in 50 folders at BAA Stansted HQ. BAA declined to comment, but it is understood that the airport group is determined to press on with the application and is still planning to open a second runway in 2015.

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon, in his first major decision since replacing Ruth Kelly this month, has approved lifting the passenger limit on Stansted's only runway from 25 million per year to 35 million. He also backed a third runway at Heathrow in an interview last week.

Villiers reiterated opposition to a proposed third runway at Heathrow, saying that Tories were 'absolutely determined' to stop the project going ahead. She added that companies contracted to work on the project were in danger of losing their work. 'We will not consider ourselves bound by any decision taken by this government (on Heathrow). People involved with contracts should be warned - we will stop a third runway going ahead. Anyone getting involved in any contract for a third runway should be very, very careful,' she said.

The shadow transport secretary added that the proposed 15.7bn high-speed rail link was affordable and would make Heathrow 'much better' by reducing demand for domestic flights. The Tories are also considering imposing a high-speed rail levy on Heathrow passengers to pay for a spur line to the airport. 'By freeing up slots we will make Heathrow less overcrowded. We will make Heathrow much, much better.'

The government is sifting through thousands of responses to a public consultation on the third runway and is expected to deliver its verdict before Christmas. BAA will then submit a planning application for the 8bn runway, which it hopes to open by 2020. Julian Brazier, the shadow transport minister, said an incoming government was 'legally entitled' to scrap infrastructure projects if they are against its policies. 'There are legal precedents,' he said.

A second runway at Stansted would take the Essex airport from 22 million passengers per year to 68 million - the annual total handled by Heathrow currently. A third runway at Heathrow would increase the number of flights from 480,000 per year to more than 700,000.


15 October 2008

CONTRADICTIONS IN POLICIES FOR THE FUTURE

EU consults on aviation CO2 reporting guidance

ENDS Europe DAILY 2631 - 8 October 2008

The European commission is consulting on guidance for monitoring, reporting and verifying aviation's carbon emissions under Europe's emission trading scheme (ETS).

All flights into and out of EU airports will be included in the scheme from 2012. This was agreed by MEPs and governments earlier this year. Airline emissions will be capped at 97 per cent of 2004-6 levels in the first year of inclusion.

Thereafter, the cap will be brought down to 95 per cent. Stakeholders have until 3 November to respond to the consultation. More information can be found here.


15 October 2008

CORRECTION - UK EMISSION REDUCTION TARGET -
AVIATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED

ENDS Europe DAILY 2631 - 8 October 2008

In an article on Tuesday (EED 07/10/08) we said a climate change committee appointed by the British government had recommended an 80 per cent cut in UK carbon emissions by 2050 in all sectors, except aviation and shipping.

In fact, the committee said the target should also apply to these sectors. But it stressed that if they were unable to comply emissions in other sectors would have to be reduced even further.


15 October 2008

STANSTED GETS GREEN LIGHT FOR GROWTH

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 9 October 2008

Passenger numbers at London Stansted airport will be allowed to rise by 40 per cent to 35m a year after the government on Thursday overrode objections from the local planning authority to approve an expansion plan.

In the teeth of opposition from environmental groups, local residents and local authorities, ministers backed a report by the planning inquiry inspector that approved its growth from the current capacity of 25m. The go-ahead came a day after London City airport also won planning permission to increase the number of take-offs and landings by about 50 per cent.

The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign group said it believed there "may be scope for legal challenge" to the Stansted decision. It said it had referred the matter to its legal advisers and had six weeks to decide whether to launch an appeal.

Peter Sanders, SSE chairman, said: "It beggars belief that there has been such a cynical disregard for the evidence presented to last year's inquiry."

Future of flying

* BAA wins planning approval to raise passenger numbers at London Stansted from 25m to 35m.

* London City airport wins planning approval to raise take-offs and landings by 50 per cent from 80,000 to 120,000.

* Government to decide by the end of the year on whether to give the go-ahead for a third runway at London Heathrow. This would still have to clear a planning inquiry. Earliest date for operations is seen as 2020. Conservatives firmly opposed to third runway under policy adopted at their party conference last month.

* Planning inquiry due to open next spring into BAA application to build a second runway and terminal at Stansted for eventual 68m passenger capacity. Earliest operation is seen as 2015.

* London Gatwick put up for sale last month. The Competition Commission is also expected to call early next year for BAA to sell Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Ministers said Stansted could increase the maximum number of passengers using the airport on the existing single runway from 25m to 35m, while the number of flights to and from the airport could be increased from 241,000 to 264,000.

Jim Fitzpatrick, aviation minister, said there was "an urgent need" for additional runway capacity in southeast England. The first priority was to make best use of the existing runways, including using the remaining capacity at Stansted. Air travel was "essential to the UK economy and to our continued prosperity", he said.

Traffic at Stansted has slowed in the past 12 months after a decade of rapid growth, declining by 4 per cent to 22.98m in the 12 months to August. It has lost its north Atlantic connections with the collapse of Eos and Maxjet, the all-business class carriers, and the withdrawal of American Airlines' short-lived service to New York JFK.

The government came under attack from environmental campaigners for allowing the expansion in the same week as the climate change committee told ministers they should set a 2050 target of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent, including those from aviation and transport.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner, said: "Allowing 10m more people to fly from Stansted each year shows the government's climate change strategy is a complete shambles. Allowing airports to grow will make these targets almost impossible to meet."

Planning permission for the expansion of Stansted was originally refused on grounds of noise and environmental concerns by Uttlesford District Council, the local planning authority, in November 2006.

Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive, said the government approval was "an important decision for Stansted, but also for the wider UK economy".

BAA's long-term growth expectations were "high and it is right that we have a policy framework which encourages responsible growth and which sets out clear steps towards additional runway capacity at Stansted and Heathrow", he said.

The group is facing the break-up of its London airports monopoly, however, under pressure from the Competition Commission. The final report from the Commission is due early next year. BAA has recently warned that a sale of Stansted could lead to a significant delay in plans to increase runway capacity in south-east England.


15 October 2008

END OF OUR AFFAIR WITH AIR TRAVEL?

Airline failures, the credit crunch and a dismal airport experience
have caused a sharp fall in the number of fliers from the UK

Martin Hickman - The Independent on Sunday - 12 October 2008

The number of flights crossing Britain's skies dipped by 2.6 per cent, the third monthly fall in a row.

Air travel is declining for the first time in almost 20 years, The Independent on Sunday discloses today. Airline failures, harder economic times and a dismal airport experience have caused a sharp downturn in the number of travellers boarding planes at British airports.

IoS figures show that traffic at 18 leading UK airports fell by 4.5 per cent last month from 20.8 million to 19.9 million, with almost one million fewer fliers in the skies. The biggest airports recorded large falls in traffic: Heathrow was down 3.6 per cent and Gatwick 6.8 per cent; Manchester tumbled 6.7 per cent. Overall, the seven airports controlled by BAA, the UK's biggest airport operator, fell 5 per cent.

At the same time, the number of flights crossing Britain's skies dipped by 2.6 per cent, the third monthly fall in a row. The downturn suggests that Britons may be falling out of love with flying after years of boom for low-cost flights. It is likely to end two decades of unbroken growth in UK air traffic, which has risen every year since 1991, an increase that continued even in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. Industry observers say that air travel ? heavily criticised by green groups for causing climate change emissions ? is in much worse shape than it was then.

Rising food, fuel and council tax bills have caused householders to cut back on luxuries, including travel.

Holiday experts also believe that long queues and extenstive security checks at airports have removed any pleasure from flying. The collapse of XL Leisure, the UK's third largest holiday company, on 12 September ? which left 85,000 holidaymakers stranded abroad ? created embarrassing publicity for the industry and left customers worried about what would happen if their airline went bust.

"I can't remember it being tougher," said Ray Mason, a travel industry executive for 20 years. Mr Mason, managing director of travel.co.uk, added: "XL has almost been a watershed and people are finally getting the message that the era of cheap travel is at an end and they will have to pay much more for their flights. There is a lot of nervousness out there, and it will affect bookings."

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth aviation campaigner, said the IoS figures showed that the Government should order an immediate review of airport expansion.

This week, the Government gave permission for an extra 10 million passengers a year at Stansted in Essex and it is expected to approve a new runway at Heathrow in the next year despite claims from campaigners that it will breach EU noise and pollution limits. The planned expansion is based on the 2003 aviation White Paper, which forecast that passenger numbers would grow by up to 243 per cent by 2020 from 2002 levels.

UK air travel has increased every year since 1991, even rising by 4 per cent in the wake of 9/11. Since 2003, however, passenger growth has slowed, rising by 7 per cent, 6 per cent, 3 per cent and 2.3 per cent, hitting 240.7 million in 2007. In the past 12 months, the number has stuck at between 240.6 million and 241.8 million. Now it has fallen ? sharply.

Flights landing or taking off from the UK fell year on year by 1 per cent in July, 2.5 per cent in August and 2.6 per cent in September, according to figures from the National Air Traffic Service (Nats). The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has yet to release figures for passenger numbers for August or September.

Research by The Independent on Sunday, however, shows that in August the number of flights at 18 leading airports barely rose above last summer, ticking up 1 per cent. Gatwick had 240,000 fewer passengers and Heathrow, scene of furious protests by climate change protesters, recorded 220,000 fewer travellers.

Glasgow was down 11 per cent, Newcastle and Cardiff were down by 10 per cent. Stansted fell by 4.7 per cent and Aberdeen by 4.2 per cent. Only four of the airports recorded rises, including London City, which bucked the trend with an 11 per cent rise, and low-cost Luton, up 1.9 per cent.

BAA maintained that the prospects for aviation were strong. "Historically," it said, "air traffic growth recovers from short-term shocks such as those currently being played out in the financial markets, as evidenced by the growth in traffic after the Gulf wars, 9/11 and the Asian economic problems in the late 1990s."

The travel industry has been hit by a series of failures. Talks are taking place to stop Italy's troubled national carrier Alitalia sliding into bankruptcy. Low-cost operator Zoom and transatlantic business service Silverjet have already gone bust. And the collapse of XL Leisure removed 10 per cent of the package holiday market at a stroke.

Holiday companies are expected to take at least 18 months to increase capacity to match XL's business ? and they may choose not to, amid continuing uncertainty in the sector.

British airports have been hit by a fall in American tourists visiting Europe. Some foreign travellers are thought to be avoiding a British stopover because of the poor reputation of Gatwick and Heathrow, especially after the Terminal 5 debacle.

John Strickland, an aviation consultant, said air travel was now in a "more extreme position" than after September 11. "There were about a dozen airlines that went bust after 9/11 and we have that number this year already," he said. "We are in uncharted territory. People are cutting their spending and airlines are looking at their routes for the winter."

Additional reporting by Ian Griggs


15 October 2008

STANSTED DECISION IGNORES HERITAGE CONCERNS

Press Release - The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings - 13 October 2008

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) has condemned the Government's decision to allow BAA to increase passenger numbers at Stansted Airport from 25 to 35 million a year. The decision was announced in a written statement to Parliament by the new Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon, and follows a public inquiry last year. The SPAB has criticised the inspector's report for failing to take into consideration the concerns expressed at the inquiry about the effect of airport expansion on the area's greatly valued historic environment.

Responding to the outcome of the inquiry, Douglas Kent, SPAB Technical Secretary, commented: "The peculiar closeness of the relationship between the Department for Transport and BAA appears to have enveloped the inspector. Despite overwhelming evidence that irreversible damage would occur to the area's first-rate architectural heritage, he has recommended expansion on the spurious justification that it is in line with an aviation White Paper. The inquiry was, therefore, a sham and a complete waste of public money."

Within just over a one-mile radius of Stansted Airport there are 128 listed buildings or groups of buildings, and in the three closest districts 161 conservation areas. These will be compromised by their proximity to the expanding airport and its facilities. The expansion will inevitably be accompanied by the incremental urbanisation of what is, at present, a predominantly rural area. At the inquiry, the legislation protecting the historic environment should have taken precedence over Government policy, including that contained in any White Paper.

Looking beyond this decision, the SPAB is already preparing for a further public inquiry into whether a second runway should be built at Stansted. The recent set-back has only strengthened our resolve to fight Stansted's boundless expansion and the Society declares itself "battle-hardened, not fatally holed".

Editor's Note: SPAB is Britain's oldest building conservation body. It was set up by William Morris to oppose the destructive restorations of the Victorian era and promote the alternative of "conservative repair". By law it must be notified of applications to demolish listed buildings in England and Wales and comments on hundreds each year. Today its broad remit is to advise, educate and campaign. The Society also trains architects and craftsmen; produces a range of helpful publications and campaigns on issues like VAT. It also has a separate section devoted to Mills.


15 October 2008

COVENTRY AIRPORT EXPANSION PLAN IS REJECTED

Jenny Waddington - Coventry Telegraph - 7 October 2008

COVENTRY Airport is facing an uncertain future after its long-running expansion plan was rejected by a High Court judge.

A High Court judge in London yesterday rejected the airport's appeal over its proposal to build a new passenger terminal. At a six-day court hearing earlier this year, airport bosses had challenged the government's decision to block the expansion. But the judge has now rejected the airport's last-ditch bid to build a new terminal. It would have doubled passenger numbers to two million each year and would have been a massive boost to the city's economy.

Airport chief executive Chris Orphanou had previously claimed that winning the High Court appeal was vital to the airport's future success. He claimed expansion was essential to attract more flights and passengers. But last night, bosses refused to speculate on the airport's future - claiming they needed to examine the report and look into its implications.

At yesterday's ruling, the judge claimed the government was entitled to take its stance even though West Midlands International Airport Ltd had branded it "perverse". Mr Orphanou said they were "naturally disappointed" with the result. "We will now take time to examine the full report and its implications."

The airport company - which first submitted a planning application for a terminal five years ago - argued that permission was refused despite the views of all relevant statutory bodies charged with administration in the area of the airport.

The airport raised a list of 19 grounds challenging the government's decision, but in a detailed report, the judge went through all these and rejected each one. The arguments focused on factors such as passenger throughput, a bus shuttle service, parking, compliance with the local transport plan, noise and air quality.

The judge said he considered the latest challenge by the airport company to be "an attempt to rerun many of the arguments and submissions made at the original appeal."

Councillor Bertie MacKay, chairman of Warwick District Council's planning committee and a Stoneleigh resident, said: "I am pleased that the High Court has dismissed this appeal, and refused the airport leave to appeal further. However, the airport's legal team have indicated their intention to exercise their right of appeal to the Court of Appeal, and they have 28 days in which to do this. It is too early to say the case is closed, but I am optimistic of a final outcome favouring local residents who are opposed to the expansion."

Alan Durham, director of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is a big disappointment to the city and the region." He said the chamber would seek talks with the airport management to discuss the implications of the decision.


10 October 2008

PARLIAMENT TODAY:
THE NEW MINISTER MAKES THE FATAL DECISION

Planning Appeal - Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Stansted Airport

House of Commons - 9 October 2008

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Geoff Hoon): My Right hon friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and I have decided to grant planning permission to change two planning conditions attached to the Stansted airport 2003 permission.

This relates to an appeal by BAA plc and Stansted Airport Ltd following the refusal of planning permission by Uttlesford District Council in November 2006.

The decision allows for an increase in the number of flights to and from the airport in a year from 241,000 to 264,000 air traffic movements and an increase in the maximum number of passengers using the airport from 25 million to 35 million per annum.

The reasons are set out in the Secretaries of State's decision letter, copies of which have been placed in the House Libraries, together with the Planning Inspector's report.


10 October 2008

STANSTED EXPANSION IS A PYRRHIC VICTORY FOR AVIATION: ANALYSIS

The aviation industry may be in meltdown with planes being grounded by the dozen, but this grim reality seems to have escaped the Government.

David Millward, Transport Editor - Daily Telegraph - 9 October 2008

While allowing airports to expand may have made sense in 2003, the economic - let alone the environmental ? landscape has changed dramatically over the last five years.

The latest industry figures, released earlier this week, showed that demand for air travel had dropped dramatically over the past year with nearly half a million flights being axed over the last quarter of this year.

Within Europe 11 million fewer seats will be sold between now and January compared to the same period in 2007. Stansted's two major operators, Ryanair and EasyJet are cutting back on services during the winter. Obviously many will be restored in the summer, but will there be as many as last year?

The rise in demand for air travel, at least in Britain, was largely fuelled by growing links with Eastern Europe following the fall of Communism. Even without the looming recession, it is not unreasonable to ask whether demand for air travel had peaked anyway.

Geoff Hoon's decision means that Stansted will be capable of handling 10 million more passengers in 2015. But given current trends, one does wonder where they are going to come from?


10 October 2008

STANSTED EXPANSION FIGHT GOES ON

BBC News - 9 October 2008

The expansion could mean an extra 10m passengers a year

Plans to expand Stansted Airport have been given the go ahead by the Government in a move which has angered environmentalists and local campaigners.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has given permission for the airport to accommodate a further 23,000 flights a year, carrying an extra 10 million passengers.

His announcement, with the agreement of Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears, means the Government is overturning a decision by Uttlesford District Council.

The authority had refused the expansion on the grounds of noise and environmental concerns, prompting an appeal by airport operator BAA.

STANSTED EXPANSION TIMELINE
December 2003 - Proposals for a second Stansted runway revealed
May 2005 - BAA says runway could be delayed
October 2005 - British Airways questions the need for the new runway
November 2006 - Plans to increase flights and passenger numbers refused by local council
March 2008 - BAA submits planning application for second runway to double airport's size
October 2008 - Government agrees to increase in flights and passenger numbers

What does this now mean for the budget airline hub and communities living near the Essex airport?

Stansted's managing director Stewart Wingate said it could see up to 35 million passengers a year passing through the gates. "We will now be studying the full detail of the decision, including the independent planning inspector's report before commenting further," he said. "What we can say today though is that this is clearly great news for passengers and for businesses, located in the local community or across the wider region."

'Aircraft noise cut'

Ministers believe the impact on health caused by air pollution from the expansion is "likely to be very small".

Matthew Knowles, of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, said noise from UK aircraft had been cut by 75% over the past 30 years. "The industry has also set itself the target for a further 50% cut in both noise and CO2 emissions from 2000 levels by 2020," he added.

Despite the move, the ministers said they were expressing no views on the need for a second runway at the airport. The new runway is a key part of BAA's long-term expansion plans and proposals for this, along with a new terminal, were unveiled in March.

Campaigners claim the decision will harm the environment

This plan has been branded as "environmentally disastrous" by campaign groups. And many believe Geoff Hoon's decision is equally bad.

Residents living near the airport will have to put up with more noise and air pollution, it is claimed.

The National Trust opposes the expansion, claiming increased air traffic will have an adverse impact on nearby Hatfield Forest. It has described the site as one of Europe's last remaining medieval royal hunting forests and believes an increase in flights and noise will hit visitor numbers.

Uttlesford District Council leader Jim Ketteridge said: "Allowing BAA to increase the amount of air traffic marks a further erosion of our quality of life, particularly for all those living near Stansted Airport."

Stop Stansted Expansion, the campaign group which has led opposition to further development, said it was "considering the implications" of the Government's decision before commenting further.

And the Liberal Democrats have also criticised the move, claiming there is a "gaping void" between the Government's rhetoric on the environment and its actions.


10 October 2008

THIS EXPANSION DESERVES A FORCED LANDING

The government is pushing through plans to expand Stansted ? doesn't it read its own climate change reports?

Leo Hickman - The Guardian - 9 October 2008

Invest in spade manufacturers. That's my hot tip for those of you looking for a punt during these uncertain times. For this is surely a wonderful time to be burying bad news.

There was certainly something of the Jo Moore's about today's announcement by Geoff Hoon, the fresh-off-the-carousel transport secretary, that Stansted airport is to be given the go-ahead to expand its passenger capacity. Would he have dared do so at any other time given that it was just 72 hours ago that the government's committee on climate change, chaired by Lord Turner (some week he's having what with his other job at the FSA), said that the UK's carbon reduction target for 2050 should be raised from 60% to 80% and include shipping and aviation?

Airport expansion seems to make about as much sense this week as looking for good savings deals in Iceland. Even if you put climate change concerns aside ? a near-impossible ask when it comes to airports, I admit ? then airport expansion still seems to be a dud. With airlines going out of business by the week due to high fuel costs, and consumers pulling up the drawbridge on their spending (which, presumably, will curtail the urge to pop to Europe by plane for the weekend), the growth predictions made by the aviation industry ? and lapped up by the present government ? now seem to be more than a little wide of the mark.

The current economic situation is actually presenting the government with the perfect opportunity to gracefully retreat from its unpopular and unwise airport expansion plans ? and yet it pushes on like Douglas Haig at the Somme. The plans for Stansted and Heathrow's third runway should really be dead in the water by now ? for example, how and with whom is BAA now going to raise the funds for these projects? ? but still they refuse to whither. I wonder if Ed Miliband, as the new secretary of state for climate change and energy, was even involved in the decision. To be honest, it tells us much about the government's true convictions on climate change whether he was or he wasn't involved.

My bet is that the third runway at Heathrow really must now be a lost cause for its ever-dwindling number of supporters. The tide has now almost fully turned against it ? the politics, the economics, the environment. Stansted's expansion is very different because it doesn't require new asphalt to be laid, just an increase in the number of flights using its current runway. But never content, its owner BAA still pushes on with its predict-and-provide pleas for a second runway. If any good is to come out of the turbulence of recent weeks it will be that such plans will now have to make an urgent forced landing.


10 October 2008

UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL
CONDEMNS STANSTED DECISION

Press Notice - Uttlesford District Council - 9 October 2008

The Government decision to lift restrictions on the number of passengers going through Stansted Airport has been condemned as "a further erosion of our quality of life" which shows the Government has not listened to local concern.

It means that 35 million passengers a year will be able to pass through airport, instead of the current limit at 25 million, and the number of aircraft movements could rise from 241,000 to 264,000 a year.

Uttlesford District Council has pledged to do everything it can to ensure a second runway is never built. The Government has called in the 38 applications relating to that scheme.

Cllr Jim Ketteridge, Leader of Uttlesford District Council, said: "This decision on the existing runway is a blow for the community. It demonstrates that the Government has failed to listen to the clear message from the people of Uttlesford. Residents already find the level of aircraft noise extremely disturbing and allowing BAA to increase the amount of air traffic marks a further erosion of our quality of life, particularly for all those living near Stansted Airport."

"We are very disappointed that the appeal has been allowed but are redoubling our efforts to fight the second runway proposals. We may not have won this battle, but with the help of our local authority partners, we will do everything we can to win the war."

Cllr Peter Wilcock, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: "It is disappointing that the Minister has not listened to the issues surrounding the full use of the airport. The losers in this case will be the people of Uttlesford who will have to endure more air and noise pollution in the area."

Cllr Elizabeth Godwin, Leader of the Independent group, said: "It is a great sadness that the attractive area around the airport will in time inevitably disappear. It will mean the further eventual destruction of the communities around the airport and the loss of a way of life for everyone who remains. The communities will bear the brunt of all the noise, pollution and increased traffic without proper remedial measures. The government has clearly decided to ignore all its own messages on climate change and global warming as well as the economic situation."

Uttlesford District Council refused an application by Stansted Airport owners BAA to lift the cap on the number of passengers in November 2006. The public inquiry into that decision took place last year.

The call-in of the 38 G2 planning applications and other matters including highways and compulsory purchase orders means that instead of a decision being made at a local level, through Uttlesford District Council's Development Control Committee, the Secretaries of State for Transport and Communities will make the decision following a Public Inquiry run by the National Planning Inspectorate. That inquiry will look at the evidence, hear submissions and make recommendations on the proposals.

The council is currently analysing thousands of submissions sent in regarding the second runway proposals. The submissions received will help the council shape its case at the public inquiry.

The council will fight the second runway proposals at the public inquiry as part of a four authority team, working with Essex County Council and also including Hertfordshire County Council and East Herts District Council.


10 October 2008

STANSTED DECISION 'A BODY BLOW'

Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 9 October 2008

THE Government's green light for growth at Stansted Airport has been described as a body blow for the community.

Hopes are now being pinned on a painstaking legal review of today's (Thursday October 9) verdict as opponents look for a loophole in the Department for Transport decision to allow 10m more travellers a year.

As BAA bosses celebrated a resounding victory, Cllr Jim Ketteridge, the Tory leader of Uttlesford District Council, reflected on his authority's failure to convince a planning inspector it was right to refuse permission for up to 35m passengers a year.

He said: "This decision on the existing runway is a blow for the community. It demonstrates that the Government has failed to listen to the clear message from the people."

Contemplating next year's battle against a second runway and 68m passengers a year by 2030, he vowed: "We may not have won this battle, but with the help of our local authority partners we will do everything we can to win the war."

His view was backed by Stop Stansted Expansion, which also fought at the public inquiry last year. The campaigners described the decision as "entirely predictable, cynical and unjustified". Chairman Peter Sanders warned: "The Government's determination to approve this application could prove to be its undoing."

"The flaws in the process and the rationale given by the Government in reaching its decision may well provide scope for challenge. That is why we are seeking advice from our legal advisers. We have six weeks to decide whether to appeal."

In stark contrast, Stansted's managing director, Stewart Wingate, said: "We are naturally delighted with this decision, coming as it does after a full and independent public inquiry last year. With longer-term forecasts predicting passenger growth, this decision secures our future and allows us to plan ahead with certainty. We will now take time to study the full detail of the decision, including the independent planning inspector's report, before commenting further."

"What we can say today, however, is that this is great news for the millions of leisure and business travellers who depend on Stansted to keep them connected with Europe and the wider world."

The Government's decision to vary the existing planning permission means Stansted's yearly passengers limit is increased from a maximum of 25m to 35m, while flights can grow from a cap of 241,000 to 264,000. Currently the airport handles 23.5m passengers a year and has 184,000 flights.

The potential increases have also been condemned by the World Development Movement. The organisation's climate change policy officer, Tim Jones, said: "It's sickening to learn that the Government is supporting this expansion, which will only worsen the impact of climate change on the world's poorest people."

"How ironic and sad that in the future, Stansted will generate more CO2 than Tanzania, where it is estimated that already 4,000 people die every year from climate change-related causes. Only two days ago, the influential committee on climate change demanded that emissions must be cut by 80 per cent. This move flies directly in the face of this recommendation. It's simply irresponsible and unfathomable."

??????? 8 October 2008

UK 'SHOULD CUT GREENHOUSE GASES BY 80%'

Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent - BBC News - 7 October 2008

The UK should cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by mid-century, the Government's climate change committee recommended today.

The committee said a more stringent target than the 60% cut currently in the Climate Change Bill was needed, because new information suggested the dangers of global warming were greater than previously thought.

In a letter to the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, the committee's chairman Adair Turner said the tougher target would be "challenging but feasible", and could be achieved at a cost of 1% to 2% of GDP in 2050.

He also said a cut of 80% on 1990 levels by 2050 should cover all emissions - not just carbon dioxide - and all sectors of the UK economy including shipping and aviation.

But because of practical problems in allocating emissions of international transport to the UK, they should not be included in the Climate Change Bill's five yearly carbon budgets, he said.

Instead the overall target should be "at least 80%", with greater reductions in sectors covered by the Bill if aviation and shipping do not make sufficient cuts by mid century, he said.

Mr Miliband, who was appointed to the role of Energy and Climate Change Secretary on Friday when the new department was created in the Cabinet reshuffle, said he welcomed the report. "We need to act now to avoid dangerous climate change and the action we take must be guided by experts. That's why we asked Adair Turner to examine the level of our target. This is a pressing issue and we'll respond to the recommendations swiftly."

"Setting an emissions target in the Climate Change Bill and establishing my new Department of Energy and Climate Change sends out a strong message, but the hard work will be for us all to make emission reductions a reality over the coming decades."

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth which has led the campaign for a Climate Change Bill, said the committee's recommendation was "fantastic news".

"If we are to play our part in avoiding a climate catastrophe, the new climate law must require future governments to slash UK emissions by at least 80% by 2050. The Climate Change Bill is a trail-blazing piece of legislation - but the Government must now strengthen it to help make Britain a world leader in developing a low carbon economy. But we cannot afford to ignore pollution from international aviation and shipping - that would be like going on a calorie-controlled diet and ignoring the calories from chocolate bars," he warned.

Greenpeace's chief policy adviser Benet Northcote said 80% was the level of emissions cuts needed to combat climate change, but warned plans for new coal-fired power stations and a third runway at Heathrow would "doom the target to failure even before it has been adopted".

He said: "If ministers take the 80% target seriously then they must listen to Europe's leading energy consultants Poyry, who say we can massively slash emissions by investing in renewables, energy efficiency and state of the art combined heat and power systems."


8 October 2008

MORE GOOD NEWS FROM THE EU

Parliament upholds proposed carbon trading rules

ENDS Europe DAILY 2630 - 7 October 2008

The European parliament's environment committee has backed the main thrust of European commission plans to revise rules underpinning Europe's emission trading scheme.

In a vote on Tuesday, all but one of compromise amendments proposed by Irish rapporteur Avril Doyle were adopted by the committee. The MEP had proposed minor changes to the commission's initial proposals.

Rebel MEPs from the rapporteur's EPP-ED group tried to postpone the vote until the last minute. But a motion to delay the vote was rejected, to much applause. And none of the rebels' "consolidated" amendments were adopted. Changes proposed by Ms Doyle were backed by 44 votes to 20, with one abstention.

"This is a very strong endorsement for what I think is a very balanced position," Ms Doyle told journalists after Tuesday's vote. A commission official said: "The adopted text is "an excellent basis for negotiation".

Environmentalists breathed a sigh of relief at the outcome. "I'm delighted the environment committee saw off attempts by industry to completely derail ETS rules," said Green MEP Caroline Lucas. But non-ferrous metals industry association Eurometaux was dismayed, warning it could "destroy" the sector and predicting "significant" carbon leakage.

Environment committee ETS vote in detail

Most amendments adopted on Tuesday by the parliament's environment committee in a vote on revised EU carbon trading rules only make minor changes to the European commission's initial proposals. But the committee also backed a number of significant changes.

One of the biggest changes is the addition of a funding mechanism for carbon capture and storage (CCS). Up to 500m carbon allowances amounting to E10bn will be set aside from the European emission trading scheme's new entrants reserve to co-finance the construction of CCS demonstration projects.

An other important change, and one that is likely to be a key sparring point with EU governments, is a call for spending all revenues from carbon auctioning on climate measures. Half of the revenues must be spent in developing countries, the committee said. Governments oppose any earmarking.

In other areas, the environment committee largely backed the commission's proposals. MEPs supported full auctioning of carbon allowances to the power sector from 2013. Industries at risk of carbon leakage should be identified only after an international climate treaty is agreed and they should get up to 100 per cent free allowances to protect their competitiveness, they said.

The committee strengthened the commission's quality criteria for international carbon credits from Kyoto's flexible mechanisms CDM and JI. These should represent "at least 40 per cent" of the reduction effort, Ms Doyle said. And a threshold for exempting small and medium-sized firms from the carbon trading scheme was raised from 10,000 to 25,000 tonnes of emissions annually.

MEPs also backed an automatic upscaling of Europe's emission reduction target for 2020 if an international climate treaty was signed This may prove contentious with governments, some of whom are calling for new legislative proposals in such an event.

MEPs reveal stance on carbon reduction targets

The European parliament's environment committee has backed individual greenhouse gas reduction targets proposed by Brussels in January to achieve the EU's climate objective for 2020. A vote on Tuesday crystallised a consensus that began to emerge a month ago.

The vote was dubbed "Super Tuesday" because the committee voted three of four major legislative proposals in January's climate package. The "effort-sharing" proposal covers all economic sectors falling outside Europe's emission trading scheme, representing more than half of total emissions.

All of the compromise amendments proposed by Green rapporteur Satu Hassi were adopted. Negotiators led by the MEP will now try to seal a first-reading agreement on the "effort-sharing" plan with EU governments. Ms Hassi warned negotiation with governments would be "pretty hard" on virtually all the main issues, particularly proposed sanctions for non-compliance.

The environment committee left unchanged the commission's plans on how to divide emission cuts between member states. It explicitly calls for an automatic upscaling of the EU's 20 per cent reduction goal in the event of an international climate treaty.

MEPs tightened a limit on member states' access to international carbon credits generated by Kyoto's flexible mechanisms CDM and JI. But Ms Hassi later pointed out that the committee had introduced greater flexibility for EU countries to meet their emission caps.

The environment committee capped the use of Kyoto credits at eight per cent of 2005 emissions for the whole 2013-20 period. MEPs also introduced longer-term emission targets, demanding a halving of emissions by 2035 and a 60-80 per cent cut by 2050 relative to 1990 emissions.


8 October 2008

TORIES ANNOUNCE OPPOSITION TO 2ND RUNWAY

EADT - 2 October 2008

A SECOND runway at Stansted airport would not go ahead under a Tory Government, David Cameron has confirmed.

The party's opposition to the plans to expand the Essex airport were outlined for the first time by their leader yesterday.

David Cameron, speaking to the BBC from the party conference in Birmingham, said: "We have never supported plans for a second runway at Stansted."

"What we support is the high speed rail option that we are looking at from London through Birmingham to Manchester which we think could help radically reduce the number of internal flights that are necessary and take pressure off airport expansion."

Asked directly if there would be no second runway at Stansted under a Conservative government, David Cameron replied: "We've said that it's never been part of our plans." It comes after his party rejected proposals for a third runway at Heathrow.

Last night campaigners against expansion at Stansted welcomed the confirmation of the Tory stance. Carol Barbone, Stop Stansted Expansion campaign director, said: "To have confirmation from the party leader is highly significant for our campaign. We cannot be complacent however, or rely solely on a change of Government to thwart the second runway plans and our challenge now is to prepare our case for the public inquiry which will take place to consider the application, starting next April."

She added: "We will do everything in our power to ensure that history is repeated with the rejection of this latest attempt to make Stansted bigger than Heathrow."

Ashley Riley, head of public affairs at BAA Stansted, said: "We are frustrated at today's announcement by David Cameron because while it makes good headlines for the Conservatives this week, what it doesn't do is address the real pressing issues of aviation not only in our region but across the whole of the UK. There are people that oppose the expansion but there are a growing amount of people that want to support the growth of Stansted."

Though a planning application has now been officially submitted to Uttlesford District Council by airport operator BAA, a public inquiry will determine the plans in April next year.


8 October 2008

STANSTED AIRPORT NOISE UNDER SPOTLIGHT

Harlow Herald - 1 October 2008

Stansted Airport's Nick Barton speaks at the seminar

STANSTED Airport's record on noise control came under the spotlight on Friday.

Nearly 100 community representatives, MEPs, local councillors and business representatives gathered at Duxford Imperial War Museum for the airport's eighth annual Noise Seminar.

Opening the seminar, Nick Barton, Stansted's commercial and development director told delegates of recent key achievements:

"First, we continue to champion the use at Stansted of the world's most modern, clean and efficient aircraft - the type operated by low-cost airlines that operate here."

Comment by Carol Barbone:
While it's true that Ryanair and easyJet use Being 737-800s and Airbus 319s which are currently the least noisy medium size jet aircraft, they are still intrinsically very noisy. Even a 737-800 or 319 emits about 88 decibels of noise at about 500 metres side on. That's about eight times the loudness experienced inside a busy office. A 737-800 or 319 at 5,000ft overhead is about the same loudness as that busy office. And noise annoyance is caused just as much, if not more, by the number of aircraft as well as the noise that each one makes. On average, 550 aircraft use the airport every day of the year ? more in the summer. If the second runway were ever allowed to happen that could be more than 1,350 every day. And it only takes one MD-11 cargo plane at night (about 100 decibels and more than twice as loud again as the 737s) to cause sleep disturbance. And BAA has conveniently ignored that each aircraft is heard against the low background noise level in our rural community.

"Second, we continue to keep noisy planes out of our airport. There are strict limits on noise, and we make sure that our airlines stick to the rules."

Comment by Carol Barbone:
For operations at night, it is the Government (through DfT) that decides the limits, not BAA Stansted. The DfT night quota regime currently runs to 2012 with a 5% reduction each year and SSE will be contributing to the consultation for the next regime when we shall be endeavouring to reduce night noise annoyance still further. It is the Government that also decides the departure routes (known as NPRs), not BAA Stansted. And SSE is trying to improve these routes to reduce noise annoyance.

"Third, we continue to urge the government to get to grips with preparations for the new community noise action plan. We are ready to consult with local people just as soon as we hear what guidelines airports, including Stansted, will be expected to follow.

Comment by Carol Barbone:
This community noise action plan is the follow-up to the strategic noise maps that now have to be produced under a recent EU Directive. The significant new development is that these maps are now drawn with noise contours reflecting the increased noise annoyance caused in the sensitive evening and night periods. As a result it shows a larger area inside the noise contours and more than twice the number of houses and population than previously affected around the airport. But BAA conveniently didn't mention this. SSE will be closely involved in the action plan consultation next year to reduce the noise impacts that are clearly affecting more people.

"Fourth, we publish today new and updated maps showing the flight track and height of aircraft arriving and departing from Stansted. This helps local people - or those wanting to move here - to better understand how planes operate in the area.

Comment by Carol Barbone:
And it will get worse if the NATS' proposed new flight path changes are implemented. SSE has calculated that the new arrival and departure routes for aircraft using Stansted airport will add another 2,500 track miles every day in this area with the associated additional noise, carbon emissions and visual intrusion. And that's without taking account of full use of the existing runway or the use of a second runway. BAA doesn't have any control over flight paths, which is possibly why it wasn't mentioned.

"And finally, we highlight that while aircraft numbers may have increased, it's a fact that the area worst affected by noise has decreased significantly in size. And that is thanks to advances in aircraft technology.

Comment by Carol Barbone:
By this he means the very local area around Stansted airport defined by the 57 dB Leq contour. It is true that since a peak in 1998, the 57 contour has reduced in size until recently. What he didn't say was that the last set of published contours (2007 compared with 2006) show an increase of aircraft numbers of 2.3% and yet a corresponding increase of the area affected of 5.1% and an increase of population affected of a massive 25% - mostly due to this 57 contour encroaching further into Thaxted. So it's actually getting worse now.

"We are proud to stand by our record of action, and today we take another step forward by inviting industry figures to tell us what more they are doing to make aircraft even quieter, cleaner and more efficient.

Comment by Carol Barbone:
The words 'quieter' and 'cleaner' are disingenuous. The correct vocabulary should be 'less noisy' and 'less polluting'. Aviation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions.

"So today is all about building on success and renewing our commitment to drive for even higher standards of operations as we work to protect our community from impacts of noise."

Comment by Carol Barbone:
Disingenuous vocabulary again. The EU Noise Directive's clearly stated objective is 'to avoid, prevent or reduce the harmful effects due to exposure to environmental noise'. And the Directive is now transposed into English law. This gives us more teeth.

One of the main speakers at the seminar included Dr Mark Watson, head of corporate environmental affairs at the Society of British Aerospace Companies, who said: "Current aircraft noise emissions are 75 per cent lower than they were 30 years ago and we have set ourselves the target of a further reduction of 50 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020. An identical target has been set carbon dioxide emissions."

Comment by Carol Barbone:
The target of a '50% reduction by 2020' sounds impressive. But a halving of noise emissions is equivalent to a change of 3 decibels in acoustic terms and this is the minimum perceptible change under normal conditions. So if an aircraft flew over that was 3 decibels quieter than the previous one, you wouldn't notice the difference. But you would start to notice a difference if more of these 3 decibel quieter aircraft flew over, which is exactly what would happen if more use of the existing runway or a second runway were allowed. Dr Watson has conveniently ignored the effect of numbers of aircraft as well as the low background noise levels in our community.

"The aerospace industry is confident that by the time the new runways at Heathrow and Stansted are built we will have delivered on our own self-imposed targets to cut noise, carbon dioxide and other emissions."

Comment by Carol Barbone:
The industry?s difficulty with its efforts 'to cut noise, carbon dioxide and other emissions' is that carbon dioxide reduction has now assumed a higher priority for them. And it will be harder to reduce noise at the same time as meeting more stringent carbon emissions' targets. Nonetheless any environmental gains are welcome so long as the community can actually benefit from them. Less noisy and less polluting aircraft are fine, but more of them will completely wipe out any benefits. And more of them on the scale envisioned by BAA at Stansted will be even worse.

"Technological innovation will enable airport expansion to be sustainable environmentally as well as economically.

Comment by Carol Barbone:
If only!


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