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 - July to September 2009

COUNCIL SUED ON CITY FLIGHTS RISE

CAMPAIGNERS SAY MORE FLIGHTS WOULD
'BUMP UP' EMISSIONS

An east London council has been taken to court for allegedly failing to consult residents before allowing a 50% increase in flights from City Airport

BBC News - 30 September 2009

Fight the Flights said it was suing Newham Council for approving the expansion in October without consulting residents and other affected boroughs. Group spokeswoman Anne-Marie Griffin said the decision will "bump up carbon emissions and add to the misery". The council said it had undertaken an "extensive" consultation process.

Fight the Flights said the council's decision to increase the airport's capacity from about 80,000 to 120,000 flights a year also failed to consider the government's policy to reduce aviation emissions to below 2005 levels by 2050. The community-based campaign group is represented by lawyers from Friends of the Earth in its legal bid.

'Ludicrous' decision

Ms Griffin said: "Increasing flights at London City Airport is completely wrong - it will bump up carbon emissions and add to the misery of local people who are already suffering from poor air quality and noise disturbance. There are much better ways to bring jobs to this area."

Phil Michaels, from Friends of the Earth, called the council's decision "ludicrous". "This legal challenge aims to give both the planet and local people a voice in this sort of decision," he said. "Councils have a vital role to play in delivering the emissions cuts science tells us are needed - instead of supporting airport expansion Mayor Boris Johnson should be helping London boroughs boost their local economies in ways that will benefit both people and the environment."

A spokesman for Newham Council said the plan was approved subject to "stringent" conditions and that aircraft movements would be capped at 120,000 per year. He said: "Following an extensive consultation process, which included a significant amount of input from members of the public, we are confident that this decision is in the best interest of the communities in Newham."

The spokesman added: "This decision will pump an additional £26m into the local economy, create hundreds of new jobs for residents, boost tourism in the area and create the potential for further investment in local infrastructure."

OUR COMMENT: Capped at 120,000pa? Do they really believe that will last? It only needs another application to expand further!

Pat Dale


BAA LONDON STANSTED AND EASYJET TAKE THE LEAD
IN REDUCING AIRPORT NOISE AND EMISSIONS

Saffron Walden Reporter - 7 October 2009

A COALITION of aviation representatives, including BAA Stansted, has today (Wednesday, October 7) launched an initiative to cut aircraft noise, emissions and improve local air quality at airports.

The new Departures Code of Practice promotes how aircraft can taxi to and from the runway with less than all engines operating, leading to significant reductions in ground noise, CO2 and NOx emissions, depending on aircraft type and operator techniques.

Stansted Airport's head of environment, Dr Andy Jefferson, said: "It's really great news that a new interim departures code of practice has been agreed. I am delighted as we helped lead the trialling of this new technique here at Stansted, working very closely with easyJet, so it is very pleasing to see all our hard work coming to fruition."

Forward momentum

Budget airline easyJet helped to set up the new code Mr Jefferson continued: "We have already enjoyed success with a similar collaborative approach when we developed and subsequently updated the arrivals code of practice, which has led to the introduction of continuous descent approaches at Stansted."

"I believe this next step will help build on that excellent work, maintain our forward momentum and is further evidence of our commitment to explore new and innovative ways to address the industry's environmental impacts. Also, we have now established the Stansted Aircraft Emissions Working Group which has been tasked to determine how the Stansted airlines might best use the recommendations made in this code of practice."

Invested billions

The Code has been produced by a group representing airlines, airports, air traffic control, the Civil Aviation Authority and ADS - the UK's aerospace, defence and security trade body.

EasyJet's pilot manager at Stansted, George Hutton, said: "EasyJet has invested billions in the latest technology to make sure that we operate one of the cleanest, youngest and most fuel efficient fleets in the industry - the average age of our aircraft is just 3.4 years. We've been working in collaboration with Stansted Airport's environment team for three years to explore noise and emissions saving strategies. As a result of this work, single-engine taxiing is now part of easyJet's Standard Operating Procedures almost everywhere we fly to."

"Airlines adopting this procedure could see reductions in ground emissions of up to 30 per cent and a taxi fuel saving of up to 40 per cent depending on aircraft type and operator techniques."

OUR COMMENT: Any improvement is better than none. BUT the improvement in this case is only marginal in noise and emissions reductions, and why has it taken so many years to put it into action? It does not require any new technology!

Pat Dale


RYANAIR SAYS BBC IS PREPARING
A 'HATCHET JOB' FOR PANORAMA

Ian King, Deputy Business Editor - Times Online - 10 October 2009

A dispute broke out last night between Ryanair and the BBC before the broadcaster's planned documentary on the budget airline. The Panorama programme, scheduled to be aired on Monday and titled Why Hate Ryanair?, is expected to investigate not only the secret of the airline's success but also the reasons why it is apparently so unpopular with many customers.

However, Ryanair has accused the BBC of preparing a "hatchet job", last night publishing its correspondence with the corporation concerning the broadcast in a press release headed "BBC Panorama censors the truth".

The airline said it was particularly unhappy that, having offered an interview with Michael O'Leary, its chief executive, the BBC had declined. The correspondence makes clear that Panorama was not prepared to accept Ryanair's insistence that any interview with Mr O'Leary would be either live or unedited. Stephen McNamara, the head of communications for Ryanair, said that the Panorama broadcast would contain falsehoods and accused the programme of denying the airline "an adequate right of reply".

He added: "Ryanair has wasted the last six weeks responding to Panorama's false claims about Ryanair. Panorama has repeatedly refused Ryanair's offer of an unedited interview, either live or pre-recorded, because they know that these false claims are rubbish and don't stand up to scrutiny. Ryanair calls on the BBC to explain why Panorama refuses to provide balance in its programming and why licence payers are funding such rubbish-filled investigations which don't stand up to scrutiny."

A BBC spokesman said that Panorama had asked Ryanair for an interview with Mr O'Leary, but that the airline had sought to impose conditions on how this would be carried out. He added: "We do have a statement from Ryanair in the programme and a couple of clips of Mr O'Leary speaking in it. We wanted to interview Michael O'Leary but he wanted editorial control and that is something no broadcaster would agree to. We urge viewers to make their own minds up by watching Panorama on Monday."

The correspondence released by Ryanair includes a list of more than 20 detailed questions put to the airline by Vivian White, the reporter on the programme. The questions focus on the extras charged by Ryanair over and above the cost of flying. These include the £40 fee charged to passengers who fail to print their boarding passes on advance and the airline?s £5 handling charge to customers paying by card.

The correspondence also contains Ryanair's answers to the questions - one of which reveals that the airline's cabin crew "are required to pay £300 for their uniform during their first year working for the company". This is reimbursed to them after 12 months and, according to the airline, is intended to encourage cabin crew to stay with Ryanair for at least 12 months.

The letter to the BBC adds: "It means we don't waste money on giving uniforms out to people who decide after a week, a month or three months that they don't like flying and quit."

The correspondence reveals that Ryanair initially refused to permit any interview with Mr O'Leary. However, after a report in the City Diary of The Times last month revealed that Panorama was preparing its programme, the airline contacted the BBC to offer a live interview. Mr White flew to Dublin to meet Mr O'Leary and Mr McNamara to confirm that Panorama could not agree to the conditions that Ryanair was seeking to impose on the interview.

Mr O'Leary wrote back to Mr White the same day to accuse Panorama of having "an anti-Ryanair bias in this case". He added: "As an organisation funded by licence payers, shame on you for travelling to Dublin today with British Midland [sic] and wasting yet more licence fee income, when you could have flown on Ryanair through Gatwick, Stansted or Luton, at a fraction of the high fares charged by British Midland and with fewer delays or no lost bags, either."


STANSTED BUYS 'RUNWAY RISK' HOMES

Julian Sturdy - BBC Look East - 28 September 2009

An airport operator planning a second runway has spent £90m buying up properties around its site in Essex.

Stansted owner BAA has now bought all but six properties within the proposed boundary for a second runway. Homes threatened by noise blight are also being purchased giving BAA ownership of about 270 properties. One of the latest is the historic thatched Three Horseshoes pub at Molehill Green where Stop Stansted Expansion protesters meet.

Landlord Paul Holmes, who has a new five year lease with BAA, said: "I am really looking forward to the future. I can sympathise with the people in the Stop Stansted Expansion now there is a compulsory purchase order on them and the uncertainty of when it is going to happen. That is taken away if you sell to BAA."

Last year more than 80 properties were on a list for compulsory purchase but only six are under threat if the airport is granted permission for the runway. That development is currently mothballed. A planning inquiry due to take place in the spring was postponed because the airport is up for sale under pressure from the Competition Commission.

A BBC Look East investigation has found winners and losers in the Stansted property market. John and Rosemary Welch live in a listed cottage close to the existing airport boundary. They have been there for 37 years and the couple is one of the six owners refusing to sell to BAA. "We just feel determined not to give in. We have been here all those years. We love it. We chose it because we wanted to have an old house. We don't want to move," said Mrs Welch.

The moated medieval Sheering Hall is just outside the boundary of the proposed new runway but the owners were able to sell to BAA under a voluntary home ownership scheme. Colin Huggett who bought the hall as his family home, said: "I don't believe the runway is going to happen. If it does happen I am going to have aeroplanes as neighbours. Who gives a monkeys? I enjoy the house."

The village of Takeley is close to Stansted. Here about 100 homeowners, within a 66 decibel noise zone, have sold up to BAA. Retired school teacher Paul Regeli said: "It saddens me very, very deeply. It is just this feeling of impermanence now and the feeling of creeping blight which is building up. You see it in small ways - properties becoming slightly unkempt."

BAA has so far spent £180m on its second runway proposal - half to buy homes, commercial buildings, farms and land up to several miles from the airport. A number of historic listed buildings would be demolished and re-built outside the runway zone. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings claim listed properties have been left empty and deteriorating.

In a statement BAA said all the properties were maintained to a high standard and returned to a saleable or rentable condition. "It is our intention that any property we own that is not required by an extended airport is sold back into private ownership, where possible. BAA has no desire to be a long-term landlord. It is not in anyone's interests, including BAA's, to have properties we own in anything other than the best order possible. We have committed tens of millions of pounds to protecting local property values."

A second runway for Stansted was originally planned to open in 2012. The date of the new public inquiry is not set and will not happen before a General Election. The Conservative Party is not supporting the plans for a second runway. Last year, the government agreed to allow passenger numbers to increase from 25 to 35m using the existing runway.


RAMBLE HIGHLIGHTS RUNWAY FEARS

Laura Morris - Cambridge News - 24 September 2009

MORE than 250 people stepped out to help "highlight the threat to heritage" campaigners say the plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport poses. Members of the community turned out in force to join campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion's eight annual runway ramble.

The route for the four mile hike was devised by SSE's footpaths expert Stuart Walker in conjunction with Douglas Kent of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to take ramblers past 40 of the many historic buildings that could be affected by BAA's second runway plans.

A spokeswoman for SSE said: "Starting at Molehill Green, the hikers proceeded along footpaths to Waltham Hall and then onto Bambers Green before turning up the Harcamlow Way, then through fields and across the River Roding to School Lane back in Molehill Green. The idea was to show just what would be sacrificed if BAA's proposals for a second runway were ever to be allowed."

"Expansion on the scale being proposed would make Stansted larger than Heathrow today in terms of aircraft numbers, land grab and passengers."

Commenting on the day, Carol Barbone, SSE's campaign director, said: "Today's walk provided an important reminder of the need for each of us to fight to preserve our heritage. Showing people the devastating scale of the damage to our community's history and social fabric that BAA's plans would cause brought home the reality of the threat we face."

"Encouragingly, there was a tremendous sense of resolve amongst those taking part who remain committed supporting SSE's efforts to force withdrawal of the second runway application and overturn the government?s policy on expansion."

More than £3,000 was also raised for the campaign's fighting fund by walkers who collected sponsorship for taking part.


AIRCRAFT LESSORS TAKE EVASIVE ACTION
IN DIFFICULT MARKET

Tracy Alloway - Financial Times - 24 September 2009

The global aircraft-leasing business is facing upheaval as the industry struggles to cope with a lack of funding and an airline customer base which itself is grappling with the most severe recession to hit the aviation sector. The extent of the damage inflicted on the aircraft leasing sector, which has grown rapidly over the past two decades, could lead to a dramatic reshaping of the industry as big questions hang over the future of its traditional funding model. There is no clearer evidence of the state of the sector than the long list of players that are up for sale.

At the top of that list is ILFC, the world's second-largest aircraft lessor in terms of the size of its fleet, which was put up for sale earlier this year by AIG, the troubled US insurer which was bailed out by the US government. AIG has failed so far to find a buyer.

CIT, another troubled US financial services company, is also thought to be considering selling its leasing unit, CIT Aerospace, as it seeks to avoid bankruptcy. The UK's Royal Bank of Scotland has mandated Goldman Sachs to find buyers for its Aviation Capital business. Babcock & Brown Aircraft Management and the aircraft business of Allco Finance Group, both subsidiaries of Australian companies in administration, are also on the block.

Consolidation has already started. At the end of last week, AerCap, the Dutch-based lessor, announced a $300m, all-stock deal to buy Ireland's Genesis Lease in a move that would create the world's third largest lessor by fleet size.

The number of lessors up for sale means that a total portfolio of about 1,800 aircraft is coming on to the market at a time when the sector's traditional business model is threatened by the lack of financing and aircraft values are extremely depressed.

The global aircraft leasing industry is crucial to airlines and aircraft manufacturers alike. It controls a fleet of almost 6,900 aircraft - about a third of the world's commercial aircraft in service - and accounts for about two-thirds of new orders won by aircraft manufacturers last year. Airlines rely extensively on leasing to offset the high cost of aircraft ownership.

Like so many other sectors crippled by the financial crisis the aircraft leasing industry is facing the sternest test since its inception in the mid-1960s. Lessors have historically aimed to use economies of scale - pitting aircraft manufacturers against each other for big orders - and access to inexpensive debt, often acquired by piggybacking on their parent companies' credit ratings, to build their portfolios. In return it often allowed airlines to access cheaper financing for aircraft than buying direct as well as greater flexibility in expanding and managing their fleets.

The strategy proved a profitable one and the industry started to boom in the mid-to-late 1980s with the expansion of ILFC and Guinness Peat Aviation, parts of which now belong to General Electric's aircraft leasing unit, GE Capital Aviation Services, the world's largest aircraft lessor. The question many in the aviation industry are grappling with is whether this recession will differ from the others and fundamentally change the way the leasing sector operates.

"I think financial markets will come back and debt will get cheaper but whether the leasing market will get back to where it was is difficult to say," said one fleet manager at a large European-based airline. The increase in speculative buying - when a lessor places an order for an aircraft without first having secured an airline customer - combined with capacity cuts by airlines around the world has caused widespread concern about how lessors will address the demand-supply mismatch and whether they can even finance the aircraft.

The world's leasing companies still have about 1,142 aircraft on order from manufacturers, a small decrease from last year's outstanding orders of 1,277. While this will be of great concern for Boeing, Airbus and the smaller aircraft makers, it has also put off would-be buyers of the leasing companies that are up for sale.

Many buyers might be interested in running off lessors' existing leases, but not necessarily in taking on their existing order book. Fears that air traffic growth forecasts over the next decade may be over-optimistic have also caused a lot of uncertainty about existing lessor order books. Analysts at UBS estimated in June that there were about 1,300 spare aircraft - or industry overcapacity of about 8 percent. For that over-capacity to clear, air traffic would have to bounce back by 12 per cent in 2010, they said, or production rates for new aircraft fall by circa 30 per cent from their peak.

The uncertainty and poor state of the global airline industry has also hit resale values of aircraft. "We've got passenger traffic, cargo traffic and capacity down, a record number of parked aircraft, and Boeing and Airbus are still producing at record rates," said Richard Aboulafia, vice-president of analysis at Teal Group, a Virginia-based aerospace consultant. "That means asset prices are getting clobbered."

Market values for a new Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 have fallen almost 10 percent in the last nine months. Values of older, longer-range models have dropped even further. If all those factors are not enough to put off potential buyers of an aircraft lessor, sellers face the additional problem of trying to find someone with pockets deep enough to fund a leasing business, which relies on rolling over debt to fund aircraft purchases.

Private equity houses and sovereign wealth funds would be the natural bidders, though many of those are experiencing funding problems. Many in the industry believe the coming northern hemisphere winter - when carriers traditionally rack up big losses - will be a critical time for airlines, and by extension, lessors.


FLYING COULD BE BAD FOR YOU

Plane toxins 'brain damage link'

BBC News - 24 September 2009

Toxins found in the air systems of commercial airliners have been linked to neurological damage suffered by pilots, the BBC has learned.

Campaigners say pilots and cabin crew have developed debilitating chronic medical conditions after being exposed to fume contamination from jet engines. It is estimated that as many as 200,000 UK travellers a year may be affected.

Campaigners say fume contamination from the jet engines has caused a number of pilots and cabin crew to fall ill - suffering fatigue, memory loss and muscle spasms. They have dubbed the symptoms Aerotoxic Syndrome.

US researchers tested 26 pilots and found organophosphates in their blood and fatty tissue. Now Dr Peter Julu, a consultant neurophysiologist at the Breakspear Medical Group and Royal London Hospital, has conducted further tests on 18 pilots - half from the US study and the others independently. He said he has identified neurological damage caused by the chemicals.

According to one estimate, nearly 200,000 passengers travelling on British flights were subjected to fume contamination incidents in 2004 alone.

The aircraft manufacturers BAe and Boeing say the air supplies in their planes meet health and safety standards.


PIGS TAKE FLIGHT AS AIRLINES CLAIM
THEY'LL CUT EMISSIONS BY 50%

Greenpeace Online - 22 September 2009

Startling news from Willie Walsh of British Airways who is preparing to lift the lid on a deal between aviation bosses to slash their emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. Wow, it seems like magic. Oh wait, it really does seem like magic - it's just some shifty sleight of hand as part of a PR offensive to persuade Copenhagen-bound politicos that airlines really do want to help with climate change.

Walsh and the other aviation bods are worried that, should the Copenhagen meeting come up with a sound deal to sort out climate change, they'll be bounced into accepting tough measures to reduce their emissions. They managed to exclude themselves from Kyoto, but the writing's on the wall for them this time round. Hence this pre-emptive strike which on the surface sounds impressive but it's yet more of the same old greenwash we've come to expect.

So what's the problem? First of all, reading between the lines it's obvious that these targets won't mean real cuts; they'll be achieved through sneaky offsetting and carbon trading. So airlines and airports can carry on as normal - and even carry on expanding - while relying on other sectors of industry and society to reduce emissions to compensate.

Walsh also wants to see his industry leave the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and join a global trading scheme instead. Which doesn't exist yet. If and when it does, it would need to deliver actual emissions cuts rather than just pass the buck around, and yet it's buck-passing which Walsh has his heart set on.

To highlight this problem, last week the Committee on Climate Change suggested to Ed Miliband that carbon trading would never be enough to deal with aviation emissions and that "the aviation industry should also plan, however, for deep cuts in gross C02". Exactly the kind of progressive, clear-headed thinking Walsh and co are trying to avoid - no doubt the usual suspects of efficiency gains through new (ie not invented yet) technology and powering planes on coconut oil are in the mix somewhere as well.

Companies like British Airways and BAA have taken every opportunity to get in the way of anything that could force them to reduce emissions - just look at the current Face To Face campaign, which Boris Johnson was flown out to New York to promote. It's cynically designed to trash video-conferencing and other telecommunications in favour of travelling through several time zones to shake on a deal.

Punting this proposal for emissions 'cuts' up to the UN for consideration as part of a global climate deal is another such move on a more audacious scale, although with Copenhagen now 76 days away the stakes are getting that much higher.


AIRLINES VOW TO HALVE CARBON EMISSIONS BY 2050

Exclusive: Industry will offer cut at climate change summit
to avoid tougher action

Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 21 September 2009

The aviation industry will tomorrow make a dramatic pledge to slash carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2050 in a move that will force up air fares and spark a green technology race among aircraft manufacturers.

The British Airways chief executive, Willie Walsh, will unveil an agreement between airlines, airports and aircraft companies to cut emissions to 50% below 2005 levels by 2050. In a bid to seize the initiative from environmental groups clamouring for higher taxes on the industry, the plan will be presented to world leaders at the United Nations forum on climate change in New York.

Airlines have been accused of dragging their heels over climate change, but the strategic shift reflects industry concerns that it could be ambushed at the global warming summit in Copenhagen in December if it does not address its growing emissions.

Writing in the Guardian, climate change secretary Ed Miliband says he is haunted by the possibility that politicians will fail to reach a global climate deal. Calling for a new urgency and spirit of co-operation in the negotiations, he writes: "The fate of every nation on earth hangs on the outcome of Copenhagen. It is too important to play the cards-close-to-your-chest poker games that marked diplomacy of the twentieth century."

UN officials are hoping that China's president, Hu Jintao, may break the deadlock in the negotiations by announcing in New York ambitious plans to reduce China's carbon emissions.

If Walsh's proposals are accepted by the UN, they will be on the agenda at Copenhagen, where world leaders hope to agree global emissions reduction targets. The pledges drawn up by members of the global airline body, the International Air Transport Association, are:

* To reduce net carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.
* To make all industry growth carbon-neutral by 2020.
* To cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5% per year over the next decade.
* To submit plans for joining a global carbon trading scheme to the UN by November 2010.

The 50% reduction target by 2050 goes further than the UK government's target of limiting airline emissions to 2005 levels by the same deadline. Walsh's presentation to UN delegates on behalf of IATA will be viewed by climate change campaigners as an attempt to pre-empt punitive measures at Copenhagen, amid fears among airline executives that the aviation industry will be singled out over its exclusion from carbon dioxide caps enshrined in the 1997 Kyoto protocols.

Walsh will say: "International aviation emissions were not included in the Kyoto protocol 12 years ago. Now we have a chance to rectify that omission, and we must seize it. Our proposals represent the most environmentally effective and practical means of reducing aviation's carbon impact. They are the best option for the planet and we urge the UN to adopt them."

Under the proposals, airlines would leave the EU emissions trading scheme, which they are due to join in 2012, and would buy carbon dioxide permits in a global market. Walsh warned earlier this year that a global scheme would add around £3bn per year to industry costs, which would be passed on to passengers through higher fares. According to the European commission, the EU trading scheme will add ?9 (£8.16) to the cost of a return short-haul flight and ?40 to a long-distance return flight. However, campaigners suggested the new pledge was undermined by its reliance on the industry funding emissions cuts elsewhere. "It is a real problem that this will include offsetting and buying carbon credits," said John Sauven, director of Greenpeace. "It shows that Willie Walsh is not really taking the issue of climate change seriously."

Aviation accounts for 1.6% of global greenhouse emissions currently, but will become the biggest emitter in the developed world if it grows unchecked. The government's advisory body, the committee on climate change, warned ministers this month that aviation will account for a quarter of all emissions in the developed world even if it caps 2050 emissions at 2005 levels.

The committee also recommended state investment in the green technology. Cutting the industry's emissions will require radical advances in technology that, if they are not achieved, would force airlines to make up the difference on carbon trading or offset markets. Airlines are expected to lose $11bn (£6.8bn) this year, according to IATA, and their weak balance sheets will be strained further by carbon permits, analysts say.


FLIGHTS OF FANCY OVER AIRLINE EMISSIONS

Letters - The Guardian - 23 September 2009

I am really glad that Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, has promised to deliver a 50% reduction in global aviation CO2 emissions over the next 41 years ("Airlines vow to halve emissions by 2050") as this means I can consider immediate retirement. Sadly, neither event is likely to happen. Forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other reliable sources suggest that global aviation industry emissions will rise to 2.4bn tonnes in 2050 from 610m in 2005. While aircraft and operational efficiency could improve by an average of 1.5% a year to 2020, it is likely to slow to around 1% as technology matures. There are simply no blended-wing hydrogen-fuelled aircraft ready to fly to the airlines' rescue, let alone one recent utterly bonkers suggestion of nuclear-powered planes.

The key word from Mr Walsh that exposes his claims is "net". Carbon offsets are a significant part of the aviation industry's menu, but are no substitute for real cuts in emissions. The use of biofuels in aircraft is, despite a masterly PR campaign featuring Boeing and Branson, the Batman and Robin of aviation's greenwash hype, unlikely to deliver the promised "10% by 2017" contribution. There are no sustainable biomass feedstocks or production facilities that could produce a safe kerosene alternative with a zero carbon footprint or less by then.

We know the aviation industry dislikes fuel taxes and campaigns vociferously against the proxy carbon tax regime that inclusion in the European emission trading scheme represents, despite pretending not to. Only the extremely credulous will believe that airlines willingly want to raise ticket prices to reflect even today's low market price of ?14 per tonne of CO2, sending themselves an invoice for more than ?8.5bn in the process. But it needs to, as a minimum, and right now if we are ever to get aviation's runaway emissions under control.

Jeffrey Gazzard
Board Member, Aviation Environment Federation


GREEN GROUPS URGING JOINT ACTION

BBC News - 18 September 2009

Eight of the UK's leading environmental groups have joined forces to urge political parties to adopt a joint approach on green issues.

They have produced a 10-point checklist of policies which they say are essential if the UK is to help protect the local and global environment. The list includes a large investment in energy production and green transport. It also calls for an end to airport expansion and a nationwide housing re-fit to boost energy efficiency.

The groups making the call ahead of the forthcoming political party conferences are Green Alliance, Friends of the Earth, the Woodland Trust, WWF, the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Greenpeace. Their list also calls for a big increase in the amount of woodland in the UK and the provision of green space within walking distance of every home.

'Decisive action'

Also on the list is a 40% cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, which environmentalists say scientists argue is needed. However, that figure is ahead of Labour's planned 32% cut.

Speaking on behalf of all the groups, Stephen Hale, director of Green Alliance, said: "Action in the next parliament is critical if we are to simultaneously reduce our CO2 emissions whilst improving the resilience of our natural environment to avoid the looming crises of food, energy and water shortages by 2030."

"It's now or never. Support for the common cause declaration will be the threshold for credibility at the next election on environmental issues. The commitment to decisive action must be endorsed by all parties. The real contest will be over specific policies, so we urge them to include our 10 manifesto asks for 2010 in their forthcoming manifestos."


ECONOMIC CASE FOR HEATHROW THIRD RUNWAY FLAWED, FIGURES SHOW

Critics say the new figures show the government's support for the
new runway is a 'sham' and have demanded that plans to expand
the airport are scrapped

David Adam, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 17 September 2009

Ministers announced plans to expand Heathrow in January, which could mean another 220,000 flights a year. The economic benefits of a third runway at Heathrow will be almost wiped out by the increased costs to the environment, analysis by the Liberal Democrats shows.

The government's own figures suggest that ministers have underestimated by several billion pounds the financial impact of the extra greenhouse gases produced by a third runway at the airport. Critics say the new figures show the government's support for the new runway is a "sham" and have demanded that plans to expand the airport are scrapped.

Simon Hughes, energy and climate change spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, which carried out the analysis, said: "It is time for the government to come clean on Heathrow. Ministers know the economic rationale for a third runway is a sham because their own figures prove it. By giving the green light to a third runway, the government has allowed hundreds of thousands more flights, creating a climate change disaster."

Ministers announced the Heathrow expansion plan in January which could add another 220,000 flights a year at the west London site. The government said the climate change costs associated with the project would be £4.8bn through to 2080, which it said would leave an overall benefit to the UK economy of £4.4bn to £5.2bn. But the Liberal Democrats say this calculation was based on out-of-date figures.

The government said the extra flights would generate 181m tonnes of carbon dioxide to 2080. To work out the associated cost, it used guidance issued in 2007 from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on the "shadow price of carbon". This was intended to account at the planning stages of new projects for the damage caused by extra pollution, at a price of £25 per tonne of CO2 produced. This calculation produced the £4.8bn climate cost, which still allowed for a healthy profit.

The Lib Dems repeated the calculation using revised guidance on CO2 costs published this summer by the Department of Energy and Climate Change The Decc figures allow for increased costs over time, with the damage caused by a tonne of carbon dioxide rising to £70 in 2030 and £200 in 2050. The Lib Dems assumed a similar onward rate of increase, giving a carbon cost of £648 per tonne by 2080.

Using the Decc figures to repeat the government's calculation gives a new overall climate cost of £9.3bn to 2080, an increase of £4.5bn, which swallows almost all of the expected profit.

The Department for Transport admitted it has not yet used the revised Decc figures to recalculate its sums. In a written answer to a parliamentary question from Hughes, Chris Mole, parliamentary undersecretary at the department, said: "No revised net present value estimate for a new runway and terminal at Heathrow airport that takes account of the new carbon values published in July 2009 by Decc are available. Preliminary work since the January Heathrow decision indicates that the economic case for Heathrow's third runway is robust to the new carbon values."

Hughes said: "The government's ability to show leadership on reducing emissions is fatally undermined when it follows catastrophic policies like the third runway at Heathrow and a new generation of coal power stations. It cannot hope to meet its carbon reduction targets when it is wedded to high polluting industries like these. While the Liberal Democrats have long campaigned against a third runway, the Tories are wavering on airport expansion and Labour are ploughing full steam ahead."

Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) said: "Coming up with the shadow price of carbon is really like trying to hit a moving target but this seems entirely reasonable."

In January, the NEF accused the government of "fantasy economics" to support Heathrow expansion. It argued the true environmental cost of the extra runway could be as high as £20bn, because carbon emissions released at altitude do more damage than those on the ground. Simms added that the "demonstration effect" could add to the effective carbon footprint of an expanded Heathrow, by setting an example to other countries that large, carbon-intensive development is acceptable.

The government says that aviation will account for up to 29% of UK carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 if all other industries meet CO2 reduction targets.

Lord Soley of Hammersmith, the campaign director of Future Heathrow, a coalition of businesses, trade unions and the aviation industry that supports expansion at Heathrow, said: "The British Chambers of Commerce estimates that the value of a third runway at Heathrow is £30bn, and the cost of delaying this decision further is £1bn of lost productivity every year. The UK has an important choice at Heathrow: to let the relative decline of our global connections continue, or to reinforce our competitiveness."


THE MINISTER CLAIMS THAT PIGS CAN FLY!

Adonis defends aviation industry over emissions

Transport secretary says it is 'perfectly credible' for airlines
to continue to expand as new technology to control their
carbon emissions becomes available

Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 17 September 2009

The government has defended aviation's growing contribution to greenhouse gas emissions following last week's warning that the industry will be the biggest contributor to global warming in the developed world by 2050.

Lord Adonis, the transport secretary, said other sectors such as car manufacturers could lower their carbon dioxide output more easily and argued that it was "perfectly credible" for airlines to continue expanding as new technology becomes available.

The Committee on Climate Change, the government's advisory body on global warming, portrayed aviation as the laggard in the emissions reductions race last week after calculating that the industry will account for a quarter of the carbon dioxide generated in developed countries in 2050, against 1.6% currently. Airlines would be the biggest emitters even if they met a tough UK government target of limiting their 2050 emissions to below 2005, the commission said.

"The reason why aviation will achieve a higher proportion [of CO2 emissions] is that it is harder to replace the carbon impact of aviation than it is in other sectors," said Lord Adonis.

Speaking at an Aviation Club lunch in London, he added that new technology and the emergence of biofuels would help offset the environmental cost of expanding the industry, which is expected to double in the UK to 465 million passengers per year by 2030.

The committee raised doubts last week that aircraft manufacturers and airlines could fund the research and development needed to produce more carbon-friendly jets and engines.

But Lord Adonis said there was a "growing confidence" that the industry could lower its emissions significantly with technological breakthroughs. "It is perfectly credible that we can have growth in passenger numbers at significant levels," he said.

One of the two major aircraft manufacturers, Airbus, forecast a 2% dip in passenger traffic this year as the recession hits demand. The European company also predicted that sales would be flat next year and that order cancellations and deferrals were likely over the winter as airlines struggled for cash. "We are expecting some airlines to say 'we would love to have the aircraft, but we haven't got the money,'" said John Leahy, chief operating officer of Airbus.

However, the expected 2% drop in demand is much more positive than projected figures released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata), which said the industry could see a £16.9bn loss in 2008 and 2009, with passenger numbers falling 4%. Leahy said Airbus was more optimistic because Iata figures did not take budget and domestic airlines into account.

Airbus bosses expect to deliver 480 aircraft in 2009, the same as last year, but think new orders will be at the lower end of the 300-350 projection made earlier this year.

Leahy also said that he did not expect last week's interim report by the World Trade Organisation on Boeing's complaint that Airbus was receiving unfair levels of EU aid and subsidies to have any effect. "I see on no impact on the A350 programme, we already have 500 firm orders for all three models," Leahy said.

Airbus's global market forecast says it expects that 25,000 new passenger and freight aircraft will be sold between 2009 and 2028 at a value of $3.1tn (£1.9tn). This compares with last year's forecast of 24,300 new planes for $2.8tn in the 20 years to 2026.

Asia, which currently accounts for 26% of the global airline market, would drive this growth. China and India are projected to be among the top five countries in terms of passenger aircraft demand, fuelled by the booming domestic air travel business in those two countries.


JETTING OFF TO LA-LA LAND ON CARBON CUTS

Charles Clover - Times Online - 13 September 2009

Flying makes hypocrites of us all. Franny Armstrong, inventor of the 10:10 campaign to cut our emissions by 10% in 2010, popped up last week in New York for the premiere of the government's favourite climate change film, The Age of Stupid, and was duly asked by Jeremy Paxman whether she was setting much of an example.

And as I was starting this article, a friend rang to say "for goodness sake, book that flight". We are off to Monaco for the premiere of our environmental film, The End of the Line. I struggled with rail timetables, realised it would take nearly two days, there and back, then Googled BA and offset the flight. I'll get those ferry timetables out before the Copenhagen climate conference in December - honest.

We have to concede that flying has become, for now, an inextricable part of modern life. But does that also mean we have to accept that flying on business trips and cheap holidays will go on expanding at an exponential rate until the middle of this century as the government says it will? That was the question raised again last week by the committee on climate change, the other body chaired by the ubiquitous Lord Turner, who, as the Financial Services Authority chief, raised eyebrows by suggesting the City should do less but do it rather better.

His suggestion to the airlines is, in effect, identical - his committee calls for a "new and ambitious policy on aviation". Being a government committee, it isn't quite so blunt as to say (though it is true) that the government's aviation policy - which involves a new runway at Heathrow and one at Stansted - doesn't make much logical sense, given the climate change negotiations leading up to Copenhagen and the passing of a Climate Change Act setting out the path to statutory 80% reductions in Britain?s carbon emissions by 2050. But it does point out that to allow the aviation industry to use up almost a quarter of the country's carbon ration in 2050 would mean cuts of 90% in all other parts of the economy.

Now 90% is a lot. Can you honestly see houses becoming so carbon-efficient over the next 40 years that they need only 10% of the fuel to heat them that they use now? I can't. Can cars, lorries, trains and boats become so efficient that they need only the biofuel equivalent of a bag of oats to bring our food across the world and to take us to work?

Common sense would conclude that there is a hierarchy of needs: food and shelter are higher up than business trips and holidays. By taking government policy - hell-for-leather expansion of aviation - at face value, the committee has shown up its absurdity.

Take a closer look: as things stand, under the ingenious formula devised by officials to bring Heathrow's expansion into line with government climate change commitments, aviation emissions will somehow return to 2005 levels by 2050. Apparently this is achievable through more efficient aircraft and alternative fuels. The words trip off the tongue, but what do they mean?

Richard Branson recently flew a 747 from London to Amsterdam using 5% biofuel. This required oil from the equivalent of 150,000 coconuts. Had the flight been run entirely on biofuel, it would have consumed the equivalent of 3m coconuts, the annual production of an entire South Sea archipelago. It is far from clear that the world can afford to maintain the proposed levels of aviation in 2050 and to feed itself.

And what the world thinks is relevant. We Brits are aware we have got used to flying to an unprecedented degree over the past generation. But are we all aware we're the ones who fly the most?

British aviation emissions, per adult, are world-beaters. Second is the Republic of Ireland, followed by the United States. Defending our present behaviour to developing countries threatened by climate change is difficult enough. Just try defending our projected behaviour.

When you stack it up, the aviation industry is in a much bigger fix than its victory in the Heathrow third runway battle would suggest. The price of oil has crept back up from $35 a barrel to about $71 today and will almost certainly peak if the economy picks up. Meanwhile, aviation's unhealthy closeness to government - symbolised by Brian Wilson, a former Labour energy minister, heading Flying Matters, the campaign for flying funded by the airlines and BAA - is unlikely to be repeated under the Tories, who will scrap new runways at Stansted or Heathrow. You would have thought an alternative business model to selling more cheap flights was long overdue.

I suspect the British public is a lot shrewder than its politicians give it credit for. We want to fly, but we also don't want to feel hypocritical about flying. We want to pay our environmental costs. We would, I reckon, be happy with a cap on emissions that would make flying more expensive - and therefore less desirable - as the economy improved. That happens to be what the committee on climate change is suggesting. It is a fair bet, when the committee publishes its full report later this year, that it will conclude that the opportunities for aviation to expand are far more limited than the government has assumed until now.


PASSENGERS FACE NEW TAX TO HALT RISE IN AIR TRAVEL

The committee believes that airlines should be forced to share the burden of meeting Britain's commitment to an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050

Ben Webster, Environment Editor - Times Online - 9 September 2009

Tens of billions of pounds will have to be raised through flight taxes to compensate developing countries for the damage air travel does to the environment, according to the Government's advisory body on climate change.

Ticket prices should rise steadily over time to deter air travel and ensure that carbon dioxide emissions from aviation fall back to 2005 levels, the Committee on Climate Change says. It believes that airlines should be forced to share the burden of meeting Britain's commitment to an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050.

The Times has learnt that it may challenge the Government's decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow, suggesting that this would be inconsistent with that commitment.

The committee was established under last year's Climate Change Act. It has a strong influence on government policy and proposed the 80 per cent target accepted by ministers.

It says that initially the cost per passenger of compensating for climate change would be small but would rise over time and eventually reach a level that would put people off flying.

Industry estimates suggest that the average passenger would pay less than £10 extra per return ticket when aviation joins the EU emissions trading scheme in 2012. This would depend on the price of allowances to emit CO2, which is expected to rise over time.

The committee proposes a global cap on aviation emissions, with airlines required to buy allowances, and that the revenue generated should be given to developing countries to help them to adapt to climate change - for example, by building flood defences to cope with rising sea levels.

In a letter to the Government published today, the committee says that an increase in global temperatures is inevitable and that developed countries must pay for the consequences. It says that the EU trading scheme does not go far enough and could result in airlines making windfall profits.

Under the scheme, airlines will be given free carbon permits covering 85 per cent of their emissions and will have to buy permits for the remaining 15 per cent. The committee says that they should have to pay for all their emissions. This would more than double the cost to passengers.

The Greenskies Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups, estimates that the EU scheme would add £4 to the cost of a return ticket from London to Madrid and £18 for a round trip from London to Los Angeles. These would rise to £10 and £40 if the committee's proposal was accepted.

David Kennedy, chief executive of the committee, said: "A global scheme could raise tens of billions of pounds a year. You can still go on holiday abroad but there isn't going to be room for massive increases in flying."


CAP AIRLINE EMISSIONS, SAYS BODY

Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - Financial Times - 9 September 2009

Airlines around the world must face a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide they can emit as part of a new international treaty on climate change, the UK government's Committee on Climate Change will say today, Fiona Harvey reports from London.

Developed countries must ensure greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are no higher than 2005 levels by 2050, according to the committee, chaired by Lord Turner, which was set up last year to advise the government on climate change policy.

This would mean that emissions from airlines could increase in the short to medium term, but would have to be brought down sharply thereafter.

There is little time to ensure that such a commitment is included in any international agreement negotiated at the Copenhagen summit on climate change in December.

But David Kennedy, the committee's chief executive, said the UK government had to try. "It is vital that an agreement capping global aviation emissions is part of a Copenhagen deal," he said. "We are calling for a cap that would not require people to fly less than today, but would constrain aviation emissions growth going forward."

Mr Kennedy added: "Such a cap, together with deep emissions cuts in other sectors, would limit the risk of dangerous climate change and the very damaging consequences for people here and in other countries that this would have."


NO IMMEDIATE INCREASE IN FLIGHT TAXES,
TRANSPORT SECRETARY SAYS

Lord Adonis defends third Heathrow runway and rejects
additional levy to dissuade passengers from air travel

Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 9 September 2009

The transport secretary, Lord Adonis, today ruled out immediate tax rises for airline passengers despite calls from the government's advisory body on climate change for radical cuts in aviation industry emissions.

Adonis said forthcoming increases in air passenger duty (APD) would cover British aviation's contribution to global warming, but admitted future increases could not be ruled out because they would be kept under review by the Treasury.

The transport secretary also defended the decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow, which faces a challenge from the committee on climate change. "The changes we are making to air passenger duty are to ensure that aviation does pay its fair share of taxes, against its cost to the environment," Adonis said.

Asked whether the government was prepared to raise flight taxes following a warning from the committee that demand for air trips might have to be constrained, he said: "We have no plans other than those announced by the chancellor. But these will be kept under review as part of the Treasury's normal budget process."

In November air passenger duty will rise from £10 to £11 for a short-haul flight, increasing again - to £12 - next year. The tax on economy class flights to the US will rise from £40 to £45 in the autumn and be set at £60 by 2010. Routes longer than 6,000 miles, such as London to Buenos Aires or Sydney, will carry a levy of £55 for an economy-class flight, rising to £85 next year.

APD raises £1.9bn a year for the Treasury. The government is under pressure from the green lobby to increase aviation taxes since pledging to reduce UK flights' carbon emissions to 2005 levels by 2050.

The policy was announced this year alongside approval for Heathrow expansion, attracting criticism from environmental campaigners, who said accommodating a near-doubling of air traffic over the next 20 years was incompatible with achieving an 80% reduction in Britain's carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

The committee on climate change has indicated demand for air travel would have to be curbed in the decades to come because unchecked airline growth would see aviation account for a quarter of emissions by developing countries by 2050. Its chief executive, David Kennedy, said the Heathrow decision could be considered by a review of UK aviation and its impact on climate change, due in December.

Speaking outside a high-speed rail conference in London, Adonis defended the government's Heathrow policy, saying the 2050 target could still be met even if a third runway increased the number of flights to and from the UK. "There is no incompatibility whatsoever between the committee on climate change report and a third runway at Heathrow," he said. "The statement of policy which [the former transport secretary] Geoff Hoon made on 15 January included the 2050 target for aviation emissions to be lower than 2005."

Transport is the second largest emitter in the UK behind the energy industry, accounting for 21% of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Domestic aviation accounts for about 1.6% of the total within that transport segment.

Adonis told the Guardian this year that he expected high-speed rail to replace domestic air travel, with 46 million domestic air passengers a year choosing the 250mph train network instead.

Aviation enters the EU carbon trading scheme in 2012, and airlines argue that the cap-and-trade programme will cover its contribution to global warming.

Adonis today backed the expansion of the scheme to international flights, saying "aviation should be treated as an international sector in its own right". According to one industry estimate, the average passenger could pay an extra £10 a return ticket under the scheme.

Aware that pressure is building on their industry, leading airlines are now campaigning for a global airline trading scheme. Airlines could contribute $5bn (£3bn) a year to help developing countries fight climate change if such a scheme went ahead, according to the Aviation Global Deal Group, whose members include BA, Virgin and Air France-KLM.


THE AIRLINE POLLUTION TAX PROBLEM

We need to stop building new runways to make big cuts in aircraft emissions

Comments - Times Online - 11 September 2009

Sir, Your report "Passengers face new tax to halt rise in air travel" (Sept 9) gives the debate on aircraft and pollution the prominence it deserves. As the Committee for Climate Change points out, if aviation grows at the rate it wants to, the rest of us will have to pay for it. But should the airline industry be let off the hook in the fight against pollution?

We already fly more in this country than any other nation on Earth and - if special treament for the airlines continues - other industries (such as power) will have to reduce their emissions even more to make room for aviation to grow even more. Moreover, the way things are going it could be that ordinary electricity consumers could end up footing the bill.

It is becoming clear also that the only way to make the big cuts in aircraft emissions that are needed is to stop building new runways, like the one projected at Heathrow.

Frankly, Big Air has had it too good too long from a succession of compliant British governments. It needs cutting down to size - and soon.

Andrew Mcluskey
Stanwell, Staines


Sir, The climate change committee's findings confirm that our efforts to cut carbon emissions will fall far short of what is needed if aviation continues to grow. Even if limited to 2005 levels, difficult additional cuts will be needed in other sectors to compensate. While we expect people to shift behaviour by driving less and using less energy in the home, we seem determined to continue to provide for ballooning air travel demand. A clear example is Boris Johnson's proposal for an ecologically disastrous "island hub" airport in the Thames Estuary.

Politicians should recognise the elephant in the room. A doubling of demand for flights by 2030 simply cannot be met. It would negate the billions of pounds of investment in renewable energy, domestic insulation and public transport that are crucial to meeting our climate change goals.

Councillor Darren Johnson
Green Party Member, London Assembly, City Hall, SE1


Sir, An aviation carbon tax is a typical idealist's concept: it would be complex to administer, open to avoidance and a boon to a raft of "expert" advisers. The idea of making air travel more expensive is logical, as on a cost/mile basis it is cheap when compared to road or rail travel and much of it is unneccessary.

The easiest and probably fairest means of regulating air travel is a simple tax of, say, 2 euro cents per litre applied at the refinery gate. It would ideally be a EU-wide tax, promulgated by Brussels.

Graham Poole
Watlington, Oxon


FRANCE SET TO IMPOSE CARBON TAX

Mr Sarkozy says the French must cut their energy consumption

Jane Kirby - BBC News - 10 September 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced plans for a new carbon tax aimed at combating global warming.

The tax will be introduced next year and will cover the use of oil, gas and coal, he said. The new tax will be set at 17 euros (£15) per ton of emitted carbon dioxide (CO2). It will be phased in gradually. It will apply to households as well as enterprises, but not to the heavy industries and power firms included in the EU's emissions trading scheme.

Mr Sarkozy said revenues from the new tax would be ploughed back into taxpayers' pockets through cuts in other taxes and "green cheques".

The carbon tax plans have already encountered stiff opposition across the political spectrum. France's Le Monde newspaper says the tax will cover 70% of the country's carbon emissions and bring in about 4.3bn euros (£3.8bn) of revenue annually.

Mr Sarkozy insists the new tax is all about persuading the French to change their habits and cut energy consumption. Critics say it is just a ploy to boost ailing state finances. Two-thirds of French voters say they are opposed to the new levy, fearing they will struggle to pay higher bills.


AUGUST TRAFFIC FIGURES - BAA'S AIRPORTS

BAA Online - 10 September 2009

Heathrow recorded its busiest ever August - up 0.3%
Edinburgh Airport grew for fifth consecutive month
Group wide traffic declined 3.1% and outlook for remaining months of 2009 is challenging

Heathrow Airport handled 6.4 million passengers in August 2009 - up by 0.3% on 2008 - recording its busiest ever August, fuelled by a strong leisure market and Heathrow's powerful network of international routes. Heathrow's figures for August suggest that people are cutting back on leisure travel less than business travel.

The significance of long-haul markets not only to UK business but also to UK society was illustrated by a 19% increase in traffic to India. The people and communities who use these routes to visit friends and family here and around the world count on Heathrow as the only London airport that serves India.

The number of passengers transferring at Heathrow continues to rise, with travellers taking advantage of the shorter waiting times between connections at Heathrow, which come from the high frequency of services and the improved terminal facilities. The pound's position against the dollar and euro has also helped Heathrow's transfer business. Airline load factors grew by 2.7% to 81%.

In aggregate, BAA's seven UK airports handled a total of 14.4 million passengers in August, a drop of 3.1% on the same month last year.

Colin Matthews, BAA's chief executive, said: "Heathrow's traffic performance in July and August was good. The airport benefits from being the hub of a strong international route network, which is important both socially and economically. However, industry conditions remain difficult. A continuation of the improving trend at Heathrow depends on business travellers re-establishing face-to-face contact with global markets."

Around the airports, performance was mixed. There were again signs of a revival in European Scheduled traffic (+0.4%). Long Haul traffic, excluding North Atlantic, was up by 4.0%. North Atlantic traffic remained weak with a 7.7% drop on last August. Domestic traffic fell by 5.9%.

Gatwick's performance is improving. While it recorded a 4.6% reduction against August 2008, it was the only airport to grow its domestic market (1.2%) and its important European scheduled traffic grew by 5.6%.

Edinburgh's numbers are up for the fifth consecutive month (4.8%), helped by new low-cost scheduled services to Europe. Stansted recorded a drop of 7.8%, largely down to airline capacity reductions and Southampton's figures fell by 3.7%. Glasgow recorded a 13.4% decrease in August, and Aberdeen was 9.8% down on last year.

For the Group as a whole the number of air transport movements in August was 5.2% lower than a year ago when airlines were only beginning to respond to the downturn in traffic by cutting services. The drop in cargo tonnage (-7.5%) marked the first time since November 2008 that the decrease has been in single figures and August was the fourth consecutive month of reducing losses.

Further information from:
Heathrow Airport press office, +44 (0) 208 745 7224

BAA traffic summary: August 2009
TerminalPassengers
(000s)
Month % changeJan to Aug 2009% changeSep 2008 to Aug 2009% change
Heathrow6,383.70.344,092.0-2.665,748.6-2.9
Gatwick3,740.4-4.622,064.6-8.232,216.6-8.9
Stansted2,225.4-7.813,641.2-12.120,467.0-11.0
London area total12,349.5-2.879,797.8-5.9118,432.2-6.1
Southampton185.3-3.71,211.7-9.71,821.1-8.7
Glasgow713.7-13.44,874.2-12.77,426.7-12.3
Edinburgh928.54.86,140.50.29,003.2-1.2
Aberdeen269.8-9.81,994.4-10.73,073.6-9.1
Scottish total1,912.0-4.813.009.1-6.719,503.5-7.0
UK total14,446.8-3.194,018.6-6.1139,756.7-6.2


LOCAL CONCERNS AT STANSTED:
LESS FUEL AND FEWER PLANES - BUT MORE NOISE

Growing concern over aircraft noise

Evening Star - 12 September 2009

GROWING concern is being voiced over aircraft noise with complaints being made from far and wide about flightpaths over homes.

People have just three weeks left to comment on a major consultation exercise currently being carried out.

Residents living close to Stansted have stepped up their campaign - especially since the introduction of the noisy night-time Air Asia X Kuala Lumpur airbus flights - and those living below flight corridors further away are being encouraged to have their say.

Noise from passenger jets is becoming an increasing problem in parts of Suffolk, with some areas suffering a near-constant roar and drone as one plane departs and another immediately arrives as routes have become busier.

A recent Evening Star survey found it can take up to 80 seconds for the sound from one airliner to start and fade. It will get worse, too, as airports expand and air traffic grows - with the number of planes set to double in the next 20 years.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says one of the latest problems is flights staying lower for longer - avoiding a rapid climb to save fuel but with the downside being that they are noisier.

Martin Peachey, noise adviser for SSE, said the airlines were operating within the rules, but international flight procedures require noise exposure for those on the ground to be kept to a minimum while maintaining safety and do not include reducing fuel costs. "While reduced fuel burn helps reduce emissions, it should not be done at the expense of causing increased noise levels over the very small segment of flight immediately after take-off where noise abatement is the key criteria," he said.

People have until October 2 to comment on BAA's draft Noise Action Plan and should visit www.stanstedairport.com.

Stewart Wingate, Stansted Airport's managing director, said: "We are determined to take appropriate actions to reduce and mitigate against aircraft noise where we can - this is the right and responsible thing to do."

Is aircraft noise driving you mad? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk


AIRLINES IN 'INTENSIVE CARE' IATA WARNS

Travel Mole - 27 August 2009

The airline industry remains in "intensive care" despite a slight improvement in monthly results, IATA has warned.

International scheduled traffic in July saw passenger demand down by 2.9% compared to the same month last year - an improvement over the 7.2% drop in June and the 6.8% decline recorded over the first seven months of the year.

July capacity was more in line with reduced demand than in previous months and load factors are similar to those recorded in July 2008. But this came at the expense of yields which continue to fall sharply, IATA said. European and North American carriers saw declines of 3.1% and 3.2% respectively last month.

Passengers have been trading down to cheaper seats in the face of recession pressures. Airlines have also been leaving less expensive fares open for sale closer to departures dates in the face of excess capacity and intensifying competition.

The July improvement in travel demand was more the result of deep discounting than stronger incomes or greater economic confidence, according to the airline industry body.

Middle East carriers were the only ones to grow in July. The 13.2% growth in July was slightly better than the 12.9% recorded in June. The growth is fuelled by increased capacity and greater market share in traffic between Europe and Asia.

IATA director general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said: "Demand may look better, but the bottom line has not improved. We have seen little change to the unprecedented fall in yields and revenues. The months ahead are marked by many uncertainties, including the price of oil. The road to recovery will be both slow and volatile. In the meantime, the industry remains in intensive care."

He added: "Airlines need to make their money in the June-August peak travel season. Planes are full. Load factors are high. But revenues are way down. Conserving cash, effectively managing capacity and cutting costs will be the long-term theme for every business in the air transport value chain."


AIRLINE LOSSES SOAR

Travel Mole - 2 September 2009

Airlines worldwide lost more than £3.7billion in the first half of 2009, according to IATA.

The association's latest financial monitor said although the global economy is starting its slow recovery, the industry is still being hit by higher oil and jet fuel prices. It said even in April to June, when airline would usually make about half their annual profits, airlines struggled this year.

Passenger and freight volumes have both risen by 3% month on month in July, but IATA warned that any recovery was based on "very fragile foundations".

"Both remain well below levels seen at the same time last year," it said. "There was a material improvement in July but the future path is likely to be volatile and weaker than normal recoveries."

IATA represents 230 member airlines flying 93% of international air traffic. The report was published as the latest airline casualty, SkyEurope, ceased all operations. ABTA said the collapse highlighted the inadequacies of the current customer protection laws.


STANSTED AIRPORT'S NOISE TEAM DROP INTO
SAFFRON WALDEN TO HEAR RESIDENTS' VIEWS

Saffron Walden Reporter - 28 August 2009

STANSTED Airport's noise team will visit Saffron Walden to hear residents' views on the airport's plans to manage aircraft noise over the next five years. The community drop-in session, due to be held at the Town Hall on Tuesday September 8, will provide detailed information about Stansted Airport's Noise Action Plan.

The proposed plan will run for a five year period from 2010 to 2015 and aims to manage and, where possible, reduce the impact of noise from the various aircraft types that operate from the UK's third busiest airport.

Stansted's noise communication manager, Graeme Wade, said: "This session is one of a number of events the airport is holding throughout the area to give local people the opportunity to meet and talk to experts about the airport's proposed noise action plan. People's views and comments will be invaluable in ensuring that the plan best serves and benefits the area and local communities."

"Here at Stansted we pride ourselves on the pro-active way the airport monitors and reports on both aircraft noise and track-keeping. We've worked hard to successfully reduce the impact of aircraft noise as we've developed and grown the airport, but we know there is always more we can strive to do."

On display will be maps of aircraft patterns allowing residents to look at how aircraft noise and track keeping is closely monitored at the airport. The session will run from 2.30pm to 8.30pm and representatives from the airport will be on hand to talk to visitors and provide consultation questionnaires.

Launched in June, the airport's 16 week Noise Action Plan public consultation runs until Friday October 2. Stansted has planned eight community drop in sessions in local towns during August and September.

Along with other major airports, roads and railways, Stansted is required to publish a noise action plan as part of EU and UK environmental regulations. The final plan, which will take account of contributions made as a result of the public consultation, will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport later this year.

OUR COMMENT: How can any Plan designed to deal with unwelcome noise, however gift-wrapped, ever be "of benefit" to the community? The first question most residents want answered is "Is this noise really necessary?" and, even more important, "Can extra noise from expansion be justified as necessary for the future of national, regional or local community interests?"

Pat Dale


WHAT IS CRIME?

Editorial - Crime & Justice Studies - 3 September 2009

This latest briefing by Professor Reece Walters in the What is Crime? series, draws attention to an area of harm that is often absent from criminological debate. He highlights the human costs of air pollution and failed attempts to adequately regulate and control such harm.

Arguing for a cross disciplinary 'eco-crime' narrative, the author calls for greater understanding of the far-reaching consequences of air pollution which could set in train changes which may lead to a 'more robust and meaningful system of justice'.

Describing current arrangements in place to control and regulate air pollution, Walters draws attention to the lack of neutrality in current arrangements and the bias 'towards the economic imperatives of free trade over and above the centrality of environmental protection'.

While attention is often given to direct and individualised instances of 'crime', the serious consequences of air pollution are frequently neglected. The negative effects of pollution on health and well-being are often borne by people already experiencing a range of other disadvantages. In a global and national context, it is often the poor who are affected most.

Ultimately, political and economic imperatives have historically helped to shape legal and regulatory regimes. Whether this is an inherent flaw in current systems or something that can be overcome in favour of dealing with more wide-ranging harms is an area that requires further discussion and debate.

Rebecca Roberts is Senior Policy Associate and Will McMahon is Policy Director at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.


RYANAIR OFFERS UP FREE SEATS IN LATEST SALE

Dunmow Broadcast - 2 September 2009

BUDGET airline Ryanair today (September 2) released 1 million free seats inclusive of taxes for travel in October and November.

The free flights are available across Ryanair's European network including flights from London Stansted to Biarritz, Basel, La Rochelle, Turin, Pescara, Dusseldorf Weeze, Cork, Dublin, Frankfurt Hahn, Pisa, Knock and Belfast City. Flights can be booked online on the Ryanair website before midnight September 3.

Ryanair's Laura McCormack said: "September doesn't have to depressingly mark the end of the summer with Ryanair now offering 1 million free seats to over 500 destinations. We urge passengers to log onto ryanair.com before midnight September 3, as these fares will be snapped up quickly."

OUR COMMENT: An example of the Governments projected "Demand" for tourist seats at affordable prices? Ryanair's contribution to Climate Change?

Pat Dale


SAFETY PROBE AFTER STANSTED ACCIDENT

Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 3 September 2009

SAFETY and maintenance procedures at Stansted Airport have been tightened up following a crash between a cargo jet and a tug. Details of the incident have been made public in a newly-published report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

The BAe 146-200, with two crew on board, was preparing to depart from the Essex hub just before 9pm on February 25 this year. It had been attached to a ground handling company's tug and was being pulled onto the taxiway when the pilot heard a "loud bang". In fact the aircraft's nose had smashed through the windscreen of the vehicle towing it.

According to the report: "The towbar connecting the tug to the aircraft had detached at the tug end. Failure of a shear pin resulted in the main body of the towbar (attached to the aircraft) separating from the 'eye' fitting, which remained attached to the tug." Despite the pilot braking, the aircraft then collided with the stationary tug.

"The aircraft commander reported that he inspected the failed shear pin immediately after the accident and that it was heavily corroded and had partially sheared prior to the final failure," the report said. Both the aircraft operator and the ground handling company carried out internal investigations.

As a result the latter has confirmed its equipment is subject to scheduled six- monthly maintenance and routine operational checks - but it has also initiated three-monthly checks of the towbar shear pins.

The cargo company has also altered its procedures, with the crew delaying their flight deck checks until after towing is complete, so that all their attention is focused on the safe completion of the so-called "pushback phase".


ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY SLATES BAA AND
FUTURE HEATHROW OVER 'MISLEADING' THIRD RUNWAY
NOISE AND POLLUTION CLAIMS

Press Release - AirportWatch - 26 August 2009

An advert claiming a third runway at Heathrow will not make the airport dirtier or noisier has been ruled "misleading" by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA also decided that it was misleading for the advert to claim that the runway would not go ahead "unless local air quality meets stringent EU standards on concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2)".

The advert had been placed in regional papers by pro-Heathrow expansion pressure group Future Heathrow and was published in the period before the Government's January 2009 decision to approve a third runway at the west London airport.

The ASA said an MP, who the authority did not name, had challenged the noise, dirt and environmental claims made in the advert.

The ASA said that airport operator BAA, responding to the complaint on behalf of Future Heathrow, had said the noise and dirt claim was a "statement of fact and that readers would be right to confidently understand that a third runway would definitely not create more noise or air pollution than Heathrow at present". BAA had also defended the NO2 claim.

The ASA said today that it found both claims misleading. The authority went on: "We noted Future Heathrow and BAA firmly believed that the noise and air limits would not be breached, but considered that the evidence we had seen was not sufficient to justify an absolute claim that noise and pollution would not increase following the construction of a third runway. We concluded that the claim 'a third runway won't make Heathrow any noisier or dirtier' was likely to mislead."

On the NO2 claim, the ASA said: "Although we appreciated the Government was committed to meeting EU standards for NO2 levels by 2020, including Heathrow's expansion, we considered that that was not equivalent to the claim that Heathrow would not 'get the green light unless local air quality meets stringent EU standards on concentrations of nitrogen dioxide'. We understood that the Government intended to allow the construction of a third runway at Heathrow now and to address meeting EU NO2 targets, including in the locality of Heathrow, in the future. We considered that the claim did not make that position clear and concluded that it was likely to mislead."

The ASA said the advert must not appear again in its current form.

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN, the group campaigning against the expansion of Heathrow, said, "This is yet another set-back for BAA. Quite simply, it has been found guilty of misleading the public." Stewart added, "The ruling also damages the credibility of Future Heathrow, the pro-expansion pressure group led by the former Labour MP, Clive Soley."


RESEARCHERS QUANTIFY CLIMATE IMPACT
OF TRANSPORT SYSTEMS

GLOBE Net - 24 August 2009

EU-funded researchers have issued a report estimating the impact of road, aircraft and shipping emissions on the Earth's atmosphere as part of the QUANTIFY ('Quantifying the climate impact of global and European transport systems') project.

The report explains how ozone pollution in the troposphere (the lowest atmospheric level) wreaks havoc on people's well-being and burns large holes in farmers' pockets. Ozone pollution also acts as a strong greenhouse gas (GHG), and while it may occur naturally, sunlight and pollutants give it a helping hand.

The QUANTIFY partners applied six different atmospheric chemistry models in order to estimate the impact of emissions from road transport, aviation and shipping on ozone levels. They also estimated the impact on the hydroxyl radical OH, which is commonly referred to as the 'detergent' of the troposphere because it reacts with and helps remove many pollutants and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

Led by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), QUANTIFY found that traffic emissions resulting in high ozone levels rear their ugly head most during the summer season in the northern hemisphere. The greatest impact extends from the eastern US - and across the Atlantic - to western Europe. The researchers also discovered that changes are around 50% lower in the southern hemisphere compared to the northern hemisphere.

Aircraft emissions, meanwhile, may not play a huge role in the upper troposphere, but they dominate the effect of traffic on the ozone in the tropopause, which marks the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere (the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere).

Another contributor is road traffic, which affects the northern upper troposphere. The impact is greatest during the northern summer. Conversely, the relative contributions from each traffic sector are more or less the same during the northern winter, the experts said.

Emissions from ships have the largest impact on global OH levels in the lower troposphere, and thus the 'largest impact on reducing methane lifetime as they are released in relatively clean regions over the sub-tropical and tropical oceans where OH is highly sensitive to traffic emissions', the data showed.

The QUANTIFY partners also looked at the potential impact of ozone and methane on climate change by measuring the associated radiative forcing (RF), which is a measure of the imbalance between incoming radiation and outgoing radiation triggered by a change in the atmosphere's composition.

According to the researchers, positive RF causes a warming, while negative RF brings about cooling. The data showed that positive RF is brought on by road and aircraft emissions, while negative RF is triggered by shipping emissions. Shipping emissions negatively affect eutrophication (a process where water bodies receive excess nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth), health and acidification.

The EU is determined to cut emissions. It wants carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced by 20% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

Participating in QUANTIFY, which is expected to end in February 2010, are Charles University, Prague (Czech Republic), the Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (UK), the National Meteorological Administration (Romania), the University of Szeged (Hungary) and Airbus France.


COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED AVIATION
EMMISIONS TRADING SCHEME

Free ride for airlines on CO2 emissions

Letters - The Guardian - 21 August 2009

David Kidney (Letters, 18 August), the Department of Energy and Climate Change minister, categorically states that airline CO2 emissions will be limited by the "cap" established by the sector's inclusion in the European emission trading system (ETS), due to start in 2012. This is not the case.

The word "cap" is an unfortunate misnomer - airlines will be given what is best described as an ETS entry-level "floor" based on an average of their emissions over the years 2004 to 2006. To expand above this level, in line with the forecast growth in passengers and flights, airlines will have to participate in the ETS, initially buying a small element of this "floor" from governments, just 15%, at auction, and then go on to purchase permits in the carbon marketplace to set against further growth. As airlines expand, we estimate they might have to shell out for CO2 permits amounting to around 40% of their total emissions, leaving 60% acquired for free. This free allocation is significantly higher than most other sectors, yet another stark example of the very special treatment aviation gets from policymakers. Even Defra's woefully inadequate shadow price of carbon, £26.50, is still more than twice the current market price.

The inability of governments to make airlines pay a realistic price for 100% of their CO2 guarantees soaring aviation emissions means that the UK's entire 2050 climate change target is put at risk by the unrestrained expansion of just this one sector.

Including aviation in the European ETS, as presently set up, does nothing to reduce its climate change impact - it simply facilitates growth with the addition of a very small carbon price tag. This is why Robert Siddall from the Airport Operators Association, in his letter following David Kidney's, thinks pricing carbon at these giveaway rates, coupled with massive free allowances, is such a good idea. It's also why I think it isn't.

Jeffrey Gazzard
Aviation Environment Federation


MORE HEADS IN THE SAND!
LORD ADONIS: NO NEED TO CUT TRAVEL TO SAVE PLANET, SAYS TRANSPORT SECRETARY

Personal sacrifices are not necessary in the fight against global warming, according to Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, who promised that greener technologies would mean Britons should have no need to cut back on travel

Peter Foster in Beijing - Telegraph Online - 20 August 2009

"We don't need to have a hair-shirt approach," Lord Adonis said on a visit to Beijing to review China's high-speed rail network and the latest developments in electric and hybrid cars. "If you can radically cut emissions as a result of new transport technology it is not necessary to face people with an 'either-or' choice between a low carbon future and big cuts in travel."

Green campaigners have argued that sacrifices will be necessary if the world is serious about cutting carbon emissions, with conscientious consumers facing tough choices between "saving the planet" and, for example, enjoying low-cost flights to Europe.

However Lord Adonis, a former Liberal Democrat who switched to Labour to become head of policy for Tony Blair, said it was not realistic to expect people to curtail their travel habits in the name of global warming. Instead Briton could meet green targets through technology such as ultra low carbon cars, new generations of low-emission aircraft and electrified rail lines that cut rail carbon emissions by a third compared with using diesel locomotives.

"We'll never sell a low-carbon future to the public if it depends on a deprivation model. I'm convinced that there's no necessary trade-off between a low carbon future and more or less transport," he said. "The critical factor is the deployment of technology and the intelligent use of pricing and policy mechanisms to regulate emissions."

This December the world will meet in Copenhagen to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Treaty in an attempt to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels, the benchmark set by the UN to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Lord Adonis, who recently returned from holiday where his beach-reading included The Politics of Climate Change by Professor Anthony Giddens, is currently pushing for Britain to build a £20bn high-speed north-south rail link.

A decision on whether to build the 185mph line, which would significantly cut journey times between London and the North and reduce the need for domestic air travel, is expected to be taken early next year, before the General Election. A Government-commissioned study by Booz Allen Hamilton, a consultancy, recently raised doubts over whether a high-speed link would be more environmentally friendly than flying, particularly over short distances such as London to Manchester.

However Lord Adonis said that green considerations were only a small factor in arguing for the high-speed link which would follow the lead set up European countries like Germany and France and now being actively investigated by the US. "The primary reason for a high-speed rail link is not the environment but the need to build capacity on our rail network. Carbon reduction is one argument, but building capacity is by far the most compelling one," he said.


RYANAIR AND EASYJET SPARK AIRPORT PRICE WAR

Regional airports are fighting to keep traffic as Ryanair ends nine
of its ten Manchester routes in a row over charges

David Robertson & Robert Lindsay - The Times - 18 August 2009

Ryanair and easyJet have triggered a price war among Britain's regional airports as the site operators fight to keep traffic this coming winter. Ryanair said yesterday that it would end nine of its ten Manchester routes after the airport refused to cut its charges sufficiently. The airline's decision comes after cuts to its base at Stansted, as well as Dublin, in favour of cheaper airports elsewhere in the UK and on the Continent.

Airports are understood to be offering budget carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet extremely low landing charges, and sometimes free access, to try to keep passenger numbers up. This is particularly important for mid-sized regional airports, which need a certain level of traffic to make money from their retailing and parking operations.

Ryanair yesterday said it had asked Manchester to cut landing charges "to reflect the lower fares being paid by passengers in the current recession". The airport said that it had offered charges as low as £3 a passenger, but this was rejected by Ryanair, which will halt 44 flights a week through Manchester from the start of October - the equivalent of about 600,000 passengers a year.

The routes affected are Manchester to Barcelona (Girona), Bremen, Brussels (Charleroi), Cagliari, Düsseldorf (Weeze), Frankfurt (Hahn), Marseille, Milan (Bergamo) and Shannon. Ryanair will email affected passengers and offer a full refund or alternative flights from East Midlands, Leeds Bradford or Liverpool airports. The budget carrier last week opened a new base at Leeds Bradford and said yesterday that it would continue to increase routes and traffic from lower-cost destinations.

Airports such as Liverpool, which is owned by Peel Airports, and Leeds Bradford, which is owned by Bridgepoint, the private equity firm, are particularly aggressive in attracting budget carriers. Robin Tudor, a spokesman for Peel Airports, said: "We do not reveal our commercial agreements with airlines, but I can say that we do have to be incredibly competitive. If we were not, the airlines would not continue to commit to us."

Industry rumours suggest that some regional airports charge nothing, or almost nothing, for their services. Their aim is to increase or keep traffic above five million passengers a year because that is the perceived trigger point for making money from their retail operations.

Andrew Fitchie, an aviation analyst with Collins Stewart, the broker, said: "The big incentive is to discount landing charges to drive up passenger numbers because once you are through the magic five million mark, the money from retail and parking and so on really adds up."

Civil Aviation Authority data indicates that many of Manchester's rivals are at about five million a year, with East Midlands at 5.1 million in the year to June and Liverpool at five million. Manchester is Britain's fourth-busiest airport, at 20 million passengers a year.

Ryanair said that its withdrawal from Manchester could result in the loss of 600 jobs in the area. A spokesman for Manchester airport, which is owned by ten local authorities, said: "[In view of] all of our investment in Manchester airport, including during the current recession, we don't believe that charges as low as £3 per passenger are unreasonable. Clearly, Ryanair do and that's regrettable."

Ryanair said last month that it would cut capacity at Stansted, which charges £6.53 per passenger, by 30 per cent this winter.

OUR COMMENT: Is this really the best way to provide efficient and necessary airport services?

Pat Dale


STANSTED: DISCOUNT TRAIN FARES FOR LOCALS

Nina Morgan - Braintree & Witham Times - 24 August 2009

A train operator, which withdrew an off-peak fare, has now introduced a local residents' discount. Residents using the Stansted Express train to travel from Stansted Airport to London Liverpool Street will have their current train fares slashed by a third thanks to the new discount.

The original off-peak return fare was £17.80 and when this was withdrawn in May, commuters found themselves paying £28.80.

National Express realised not all customers were using this route to travel to the airport for flights and the peak period was less defined, which is why they have introduced a 34 per cent discount for Stansted area residents. This has brought the fare to £19.

To obtain the discount, passengers need to produce proof of address, such as a utility bill, at the ticket office. Residents with railcards can obtain a further 34 per cent discount, reducing the fare to £12.55.

For several months Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for the Saffron Walden constituency, has lobbied National Express East Anglia for a local residents' discount.

OUR COMMENT: A bonus for the commuters who have long suffered from overcrowding at peak times on the non airport services. No doubt, with fewer passengers there are empty seats on the Stansted Express!

Pat Dale


SIR ALAN HASELHURST MP GRILLS STANSTED AIRPORT
OVER NOISE INCREASE

Saffron Walden Reporter - 13 August 2009

A FUEL-SAVING change in flight practice for planes taking-off from Stansted Airport has led to increased noise levels over Hatfield Heath and Hatfield Broad Oak. In a bid to save money and cut carbon emissions, airlines have instructed their pilots to lift their plane's undercarriage earlier, before accelerating to their cruising altitude.

Managing Director of BAA Stansted, Stewart Wingate, admitted in a letter to MP Sir Alan Haselhurst that the change in practice had resulted in a "redistribution of noise away from those living slightly further away from the airport, to those living closest to the airport." He added that Hatfield Heath appears to be receiving the brunt of the increase in noise levels.

After taking up the issue on behalf of Hatfield Heath residents, Sir Alan has accused the airlines of "playing fast and loose with the noise preferential routes (NPRs) which had been agreed after much painful argument". He said: "I find it quite extraordinary that instructions to pilots can be unilaterally altered in a way which at the very least modified the purpose of the NPRs."

The change in departure procedures has meant that aircraft have been at a lower height - between 200ft and 300ft - over Hatfield Heath.

After pressure from Sir Alan, Mr Wingate said the airport would fund independent noise monitoring to be conducted in the area and discussions were underway with local councillors to agree the best site for the equipment.

"Please rest assured that my colleagues in out environmental team are giving this issue the highest priority," continued Mr Wingate in his letter to Sir Alan. "But there can be no overnight solution to this until we have captured meaningful noise data from the impacted areas and discussed the noise impacts with airlines."

Sir Alan said he was pleased that the problem was receiving serious attention, but added that if the matter cannot be resolved satisfactorily through local discussions he would not hesitate to make representations to the aviation minister.

OUR COMMENT: The public looses in the long term, fuel is saved, to the benefit of the airline and a small reduction in carbon emissions, but more noise has to be endured.

Pat Dale


GOVERNMENT UNVEILS HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN
TO GROUND SHORT FLIGHTS

Replacing plane journeys with ultra-fast train services
'manifestly in the public interest', transport secretary says

Dan Milmo and Julian Glover - The Guardian - 4 August 2009

Andrew Adonis: High-speed rail travel is possible in the UK

The government has made the demise of domestic air travel an explicit policy target for the first time by aiming to replace short-haul flights with a new 250mph high-speed rail network. The transport secretary, Lord Adonis, said switching 46 million domestic air passengers a year to a multibillion-pound north-south rail line was "manifestly in the public interest". Marking a government shift against aviation, Adonis added that rail journeys should be preferred to plane trips.

"For reasons of carbon reduction and wider environmental benefits, it is manifestly in the public interest that we systematically replace short-haul aviation with high-speed rail. But we would have to have, of course, the high-speed network before we can do it," he said.

In an interview with the Guardian to launch a three-day special report on high-speed rail, Adonis revealed that plans for a new generation of ultra-fast train services are well advanced. They include:

* The publication by the end of the year of a route from London to Birmingham, including the framework to extend the line northward to Scotland.

* Building cross-party support for the network, which could see a line to the West Midlands built by 2020.

* Running high-speed trains on the existing network, which could reduce journey times from London to Scotland to three and a half hours.

* Possibly funding the £7bn London-to-Birmingham line with a public-private partnership.

Adonis said domestic and European flights to and from the UK, which carry 169 million passengers on 1.9m trips a year, should be "progressively replaced" by a high-speed rail network that will relieve congestion on existing lines and shorten train journey times across the UK.

Flights to north-west Europe are the most realistic target, after airline sources warned that further-flung destinations such as Madrid or Prague are still expected to be dominated by air travel. Short-haul flights are the most popular journey in British aviation, accounting for seven out of 10 flights. But train travel is also popular in the UK - the British public already make 1.3bn passenger rail journeys each year - so Adonis hopes it will make a serious dent in the use of short-haul air travel.

"I would like to see short-haul aviation - not just domestic aviation, but short-haul aviation - progressively replaced by rail, including high-speed rail," Adonis said. "If we want to see [this] progressive replacement then we have got to have a high-speed rail system that links our major conurbations and makes them far more accessible to Europe, too."

The government has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, prompting ministers to push for use of electric cars and more investment in cycle routes. Against that backdrop, Adonis said rail should take priority over air travel.

Last night the British Air Transport Association (Bata), whose members include British Airways, Flybe and BMI - all carriers with domestic operations - said the government would not be able to eliminate flights within the UK altogether.

Roger Wiltshire, Bata secretary general, said there were still flights from the UK to Paris and Brussels despite the high-speed Eurostar service. "There are high-speed networks in France, Germany and Japan but they still have domestic air routes between their major cities. It does not have to be a question of one or the other."

Adonis's comments were welcomed by campaigners who, earlier this year, berated the government for backing a third runway at Heathrow. Richard Hebditch, campaigns director at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "It does not make sense to be flying short distances if there is a direct rail alternative. This clearly marks a major shift away from previous government policy and the government now needs to revisit its decision on Heathrow."

However, Adonis said a high-speed rail scheme would not undermine an aviation policy that calls for new runways at Stansted and Heathrow over the next decade. "If you look at projections for long-haul air demand the third runway just on long-haul demand alone is justified," he said. According to government estimates, air passenger numbers will nearly double to 465 million a year by 2030.

A high-speed line will have to be the UK's main infrastructure project if it is to go ahead. "If we make it a national priority, then it is affordable. If we don't, then it is not. It's as simple as that," Adonis said. He has established a company to draw up plans, to be submitted to the Department for Transport later this year.

OUR COMMENT: A breakthrough in Government thinking? Regrettably maybe not. Lord Adonis is still programmed, not only with out of date air demand forecasts but also into policies allowing aviation to cheat on carbon emissions.

Pat Dale


LORD ADONIS RIGHT BUT WRONG

Press Release by HACAN - 5 August 2009

Campaign group HACAN has welcomed the remarks by Transport Secretary Lord Adonis that the Government plans to eliminate domestic flights through investment in high-speed rail. But the campaign group argues that Adonis is wrong to suggest that a 3rd runway at Heathrow would still be needed in order to cater for an increase in long-haul flights.

HACAN Chair John Stewart said, "The evidence is clear that investment in affordable fast rail services would be a viable alternative for at least a fifth of all flights currently using Heathrow. That would free up enough landing space for an increase in long-haul flights without any need to build a new runway."

HACAN produced research almost three years ago which showed that 100,000 flights out over just over 470,000 were to just twelve destinations where high-speed could be a viable rail alternative.


PRESS RELEASE FROM GREENPEACE

5 August 2009

Commenting on the announcement by Transport secretary Lord Adonis of a new policy to replace domestic flights with a high-speed rail network across Britain, Greenpeace transport campaigner Vicky Wyatt said: "This is an incredibly exciting announcement from a transport secretary who has at last forced the government to grasp the potential of high-speed rail to replace millions of flights. If this vision becomes reality Britain will become a cleaner, quieter country, saving huge quantities of carbon and finally building a rail network to rival our European neighbours."

She continued: "By admitting that short-haul flights can be replaced by a fast and efficient rail system, Adonis has holed the case for Heathrow expansion below the water line. 100,000 short-haul flights take-off and land at Heathrow every year, but the moment they're transferred onto the rail network the aviation industry's case for a third runway falls apart."

She added: "The reaction of the aviation industry is entirely in character. For years they've been courted and cosseted by successive transport secretaries and are used to getting their way at every turn. Instead of standing in the way of progress the airlines should embrace this low-carbon vision. At the very least the events of recent months shows their 20th century business model isn't going to fly anymore. Rail is the future."


FLIGHTS MISSED IN RYANAIR CHAOS AT STANSTED AIRPORT

Simon Alford - Times Online - 2 August 2009

THE host of the BBC's Question Time, David Dimbleby, was among hundreds of holidaymakers who missed their flights from Stansted airport yesterday after Ryanair, the cut-price airline, failed to open enough check-in desks.

Only 11 such desks, or "bag drops", were open on one of the busiest departure days of the summer to service the airline's 255 flights. Queues backed up through the terminal as passengers watched their flights depart while they waited to check in or drop their bags.

Police officers patrolling the terminal were called upon to calm some passengers as tensions ran high. About 500 passengers, including families with young children, were faced with finding alternative flights or cancelling their holidays. Last night some were sleeping in the terminal.

Dimbleby, 70, with his wife and family, had been due to fly to Toulon, in the south of France, but were still holding their luggage when their plane departed at 6.35pm, 95 minutes after the check-in desk opened and almost two hours after he had arrived at the airport.

"It?s a nightmare," he said. "Ryanair have abdicated responsibility. They have not spoken to any of these people, there have not been any public announcements and they have not said when the flights are called."

"They sell tickets for flights and don't operate a check-in but are quite happy to take everyone's money. The police are here with machineguns, supposed to be protecting us from terrorists, but they end up protecting Ryanair ticket sellers. It's absurd."

Fiona Wilson, 35, was told she was too late to board her flight for a two-week holiday in Grenada but some of her luggage had been put on the plane. "They are not sure when we can get it back," she said.

The airline has adopted a policy to encourage passengers to check in online and discourages people from bringing suitcases by charging extra for luggage. It says it will stop airport check-in altogether from October.

Ryanair subcontracts its check-in desks to Swissport, but neither were available for comment last night. Stansted said: "There were only 11 [Ryanair] check-in desks open, which is fewer than we would have expected given the volume of flights they have."

OUR COMMENT: Ryanair's economies have come home to roost!

Pat Dale


RYANAIR PLANS NEW BRITISH BASE AFTER DRAMATIC U-TURN

John Mulligan - The Independent - 31 July 2009

Ryanair is likely to announce a new base in the UK within the next two weeks despite announcing a freeze on base expansion there just last month, the airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary has revealed.

The rapid U-turn comes as the carrier confirmed yesterday that it would cut capacity and routes at Dublin Airport to a greater extent this winter than last, blaming the Government's ?10 tourist tax and what it says are high landing charges levied by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

Mr O'Leary said that Ryanair will reduce the number of aircraft based at Dublin for the coming winter to 14 from the 18 it retained at the airport last winter. It will operate 980 flights a week at Dublin, compared to 1,200 it operated last winter. However, one-third of Ryanair's capacity at Dublin Airport is believed to be derived from aircraft that are not actually based there.

Mr O'Leary said some routes, including its service from Dublin to Nice, will be axed for the winter. Other routes being suspended include those to Billund in Denmark, and Dusseldorf-Weeze in Germany. Other cuts have yet to be finalised, but will total up to seven.

The DAA said it remains doubtful that Ryanair will reduce capacity from Dublin as much as flagged. The DAA cited previous instances where it claims Ryanair announced cuts, but did not ultimately fully implement them.

Mr O'Leary said the four aircraft being removed from Dublin services for the winter would be redeployed to Spain, the UK and Porto, Portugal - the site of Ryanair's newest base. A total of 20 aircraft, or about 10pc of Ryanair's current fleet, are being withdrawn from bases at Dublin and Stansted for the winter.

Last winter, Ryanair grounded 20 aircraft, but Mr O'Leary said he suspects the number would be lower this winter. He declined to name the planned new UK base, but added that it was currently attempting to negotiate a fee-free contract with the airport in question. The airline operates nine bases in the UK.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has accused the airline of talking "utter nonsense" over the impact of the Government's ?10 tourist tax. He dismissed suggestions that Ryanair's decision to cut Dublin services was in any way linked to the tax and high landing charges at Irish airports. Rather, the carrier was merely trying to flee the recession and maximise its profits in other jurisdictions, he said.


HEATHROW AIRPORT NOISE POLLUTION STUDY 'ILLOGICAL',
SAYS TOP AVIATION SCIENTIST

Paul Calahan - Guardian Online - 1 August 2009

Minor nuisance? The Government is urged to commission a new noise pollution study

The air industry regulator's former chief scientist has called on the Government to commission a new study into the effects of aircraft noise on residents around Heathrow Airport. Anti-expansion campaigners and local councils, including Wandsworth, said the call - which has also been supported by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson - could be used as part of a in a legal challenge against the Government's planned expansion.

Professor Peter Brooker - who worked as chief scientist at the Civil Aviation Authority from 1991 to 1998 - said the Government's position on the aircraft noise was "illogical". A new study was necessary because previous reports were either inconclusive or outdated, he said, and vital for the Government to regain the public's trust for a controversial policy that will affect generations.

The Department for Transport (DfT) dismissed the call and maintained current noise data figures were robust enough for expansion to proceed.

In its 2003 Aviation White Paper the Government pledged a third runway would only go ahead if it resulted in "no net increase" to the size of the area around Heathrow affected by 57 decibels of aircraft noise - the level deemed to mark "the onset of significant community annoyance".

That level was set by a noise data study in the 1980s, but a more recent study suggested the level was closer to 50 decibels. But while the DfT conceded people were affected by aircraft noise at a lower level, it proceeded with expansion plans based on the 57 decibel limit, the Prof said.

"The DfT?s position is illogical. It seems ridiculous not to investigate, where one has a suspicion of a case [for lowering the noise nuisance limit], rather than leave it where it is," he said. "If we are looking at expanding airports we need to paint an accurate picture of noise disturbance. A new report would confirm if there is a major problem with the Government's policy."

Prof Brooker was project leader for the Aircraft Noise Index Study (ANIS), published in 1985, which concluded noise became a "nuisance" for people at 57 decibels.

To coincide with the 2003 Aviation White Paper pledge around the 57 decibel question the Government commissioned a new noise survey, Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (Anase), in 2001, which was to build on ANIS and cement the case for expansion. Prof Brooker was asked to be on the steering group but left after two meetings, citing a disagreement with the project's methodology.

Three years late - and, at a cost of £1.78m and nearly two-and-a-half times over budget - Anase revealed people were affected by noise at about 50 decibels but didn't state a level for that annoyance, leading to the report being rubbished by a Commons peer review group.

In its 2007 public consultation, Adding Capacity at Heathrow, the DfT conceded Anase showed: "It is highly probable that annoyance with a particular level of aircraft noise is higher than found when the last aviation noise study (ANIS) was carried out in the 1980s, although it is still open to question by how much, and why."

Given the confusion, critics argued for the need for further investigation. "That?s a call that still needs addressing," Prof Brooker said. "We need to do something if we are to take the lives of people around Heathrow seriously. The noise study we are basing expansion policy on ANIS, which is more than 25 years old."

John Stewart, chairman of anti-expansion group HACAN, said Prof Brooker's comments added weight to claims the Government undermined the White Paper by conceding more people are affected by noise than previously thought in its public consultation. He said: "The professor's comments back our view. When the Government is implicitly accepting the 57 decibel level is probably too high, the basis for the White Paper is totally undermined."

In April 2M, a collection of 23 authorities with a combined population of 5m people, launched an application for a judicial review of the Government's policy. Speaking for the group, Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: "In its consultation the DfT accepted there was more noise nuisance caused by aircraft but have not acted on that advice. Ministers have constantly said there should be up-to-date noise data and there is not. This could be an element we will produce in our legal challenge."

John Stewart, chairman of anti-expansion group HACAN, said: "When the Government is implicitly accepting the 57 decibel level is probably too high, the basis for the White Paper is totally undermined."

A spokesman for Boris Johnson, said the Mayor "shared the view" the 57 decibel noise cap was outdated. He said: "The Mayor believes it is insanity to continue to expand a major international airport... which would not only increase noise levels for those living near the airport but for hundreds of thousands of Londoners who would be living under new flight paths. [The Mayor]strongly support a new rigorous, independent study into the effects of noise around Heathrow."

A DfT spokesman said: "The Anase study never suggested an alternative to the 57 decibel limit, and the consultation document explained the research 'did not give us the robust figures on which it would be safe to change policy'.

"The Secretary of State also noted that sensitivity analysis demonstrated that even if the decibel contour were adopted as the critical test instead of 57 decibel, the size of the contour for the third runway would be no larger than it was in 2002. On this basis, the Secretary of State was satisfied that the test specified in the Air Transport White Paper remained appropriate and the analysis of noise impacts at Heathrow set out in the consultation document was robust."

Despite massive opposition Transport Minister Geoff Hoon announced in January the Government was pressing ahead with its Heathrow expansion plans, which include a third runway and other measures to increase capacity at the airport - from 480,000 to 702,000 flights (into and out of the airport) annually by 2030 - and the demolition of the town of Sipson.

OUR COMMENT: The DfT spokesman does not seem to have fully understood the report and its findings. Wanted - a wider policy that better reflects actual experiences of aircraft noise.

Pat Dale


WARNING: OIL SUPPLIES ARE RUNNING OUT FAST

Steve Connor, Science Editor - The Independent - 1 August 2009

Catastrophic shortfalls threaten economic recovery, says world's top energy economist

The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned.

Higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could blow any recovery off course, said Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris, which is charged with the task of assessing future energy supplies by OECD countries.

In an interview with The Independent, Dr Birol said that the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years - at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.

But the first detailed assessment of more than 800 oil fields in the world, covering three quarters of global reserves, has found that most of the biggest fields have already peaked and that the rate of decline in oil production is now running at nearly twice the pace as calculated just two years ago. On top of this, there is a problem of chronic under-investment by oil-producing countries, a feature that is set to result in an "oil crunch" within the next five years which will jeopardise any hope of a recovery from the present global economic recession, he said.

In a stark warning to Britain and the other Western powers, Dr Birol said that the market power of the very few oil-producing countries that hold substantial reserves of oil - mostly in the Middle East - would increase rapidly as the oil crisis begins to grip after 2010.

"One day we will run out of oil, it is not today or tomorrow, but one day we will run out of oil and we have to leave oil before oil leaves us, and we have to prepare ourselves for that day," Dr Birol said. "The earlier we start, the better, because all of our economic and social system is based on oil, so to change from that will take a lot of time and a lot of money and we should take this issue very seriously," he said.

"The market power of the very few oil-producing countries, mainly in the Middle East, will increase very quickly. They already have about 40% share of the oil market and this will increase much more strongly in the future," he said. There is now a real risk of a crunch in the oil supply after next year when demand picks up because not enough is being done to build up new supplies of oil to compensate for the rapid decline in existing fields.

The IEA estimates that the decline in oil production in existing fields is now running at 6.7% a year compared to the 3.7% decline it had estimated in 2007, which it now acknowledges to be wrong.

"If we see a tightness of the markets, people in the street will see it in terms of higher prices, much higher than we see now. It will have an impact on the economy, definitely, especially if we see this tightness in the markets in the next few years," Dr Birol said.

"It will be especially important because the global economy will still be very fragile, very vulnerable. Many people think there will be a recovery in a few years' time but it will be a slow recovery and a fragile recovery and we will have the risk that the recovery will be strangled with higher oil prices," he told The Independent.

In its first-ever assessment of the world's major oil fields, the IEA concluded that the global energy system was at a crossroads and that consumption of oil was "patently unsustainable", with expected demand far outstripping supply.

Oil production has already peaked in non-Opec countries and the era of cheap oil has come to an end, it warned. In most fields, oil production has now peaked, which means that other sources of supply have to be found to meet existing demand.

Even if demand remained steady, the world would have to find the equivalent of four Saudi Arabias to maintain production, and six Saudi Arabias if it is to keep up with the expected increase in demand between now and 2030, Dr Birol said. "It's a big challenge in terms of the geology, in terms of the investment and in terms of the geopolitics. So this is a big risk and it's mainly because of the rates of the declining oil fields," he said.

"Many governments now are more and more aware that at least the day of cheap and easy oil is over... [however] I'm not very optimistic about governments being aware of the difficulties we may face in the oil supply," he said.

Environmentalists fear that as supplies of conventional oil run out, governments will be forced to exploit even dirtier alternatives, such as the massive reserves of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, which would be immensely damaging to the environment because of the amount of energy needed to recover a barrel of tar-sand oil compared to the energy needed to collect the same amount of crude oil.

"Just because oil is running out faster than we have collectively assumed, does not mean the pressure is off on climate change," said Jeremy Leggett, a former oil-industry consultant and now a green entrepreneur with Solar Century.

"Shell and others want to turn to tar, and extract oil from coal. But these are very carbon-intensive processes, and will deepen the climate problem," Dr Leggett said. "What we need to do is accelerate the mobilisation of renewables, energy efficiency and alternative transport. We have to do this for global warming reasons anyway, but the imminent energy crisis redoubles the imperative," he said.

OIL: AN UNCLEAR FUTURE

Why is oil so important as an energy source?
Crude oil has been critical for economic development and the smooth functioning of almost every aspect of society. Agriculture and food production is heavily dependent on oil for fuel and fertilisers. In the US, for instance, it takes the direct and indirect use of about six barrels of oil to raise one beef steer. It is the basis of most transport systems. Oil is also crucial to the drugs and chemicals industries and is a strategic asset for the military.

How are oil reserves estimated?
The amount of oil recoverable is always going to be an assessment subject to the vagaries of economics - which determines the price of the oil and whether it is worth the costs of pumping it out - and technology, which determines how easy it is to discover and recover. Probable reserves have a better than 50% chance of getting oil out. Possible reserves have less than 50% chance.

Why is there such disagreement over oil reserves?
All numbers tend to be informed estimates. Different experts make different assumptions so it is understandable that they can come to different conclusions. Some countries see the size of their oilfields as a national security issue and do not want to provide accurate information. Another problem concerns how fast oil production is declining in fields that are past their peak production. The rate of decline can vary from field to field and this affects calculations on the size of the reserves. A further factor is the expected size of future demand for oil.

What is "peak oil" and when will it be reached?
This is the point when the maximum rate at which oil is extracted reaches a peak because of technical and geological constraints, with global production going into decline from then on. The UK Government, along with many other governments, has believed that peak oil will not occur until well into the 21st Century, at least not until after 2030. The International Energy Agency believes peak oil will come perhaps by 2020. But it also believes that we are heading for an even earlier "oil crunch" because demand after 2010 is likely to exceed dwindling supplies.

With global warming, why should we be worried about peak oil?
There are large reserves of non-conventional oil, such as the tar sands of Canada. But this oil is dirty and will produce vast amounts of carbon dioxide which will make a nonsense of any climate change agreement. Another problem concerns how fast oil production is declining in fields that are past their peak production. The rate of decline can vary from field to field and this affects calculations on the size of the reserves. If we are not adequately prepared for peak oil, global warming could become far worse than expected.


WARNING - BIOFUELS CANNOT REPLACE FOSSIL FUELS

Center for International Policy (CIP) - 31 July 2009

BRAZIL: The Harsh Reality Behind Sugar Cane Ethanol

Environmentalists and renewable energy advocates around the world have long praised Brazil for its leadership in the production and use of sugar cane ethanol in motor vehicles. But the reality is quite different, says Camila Moreno from the organization Terra Direitos, in a recent article.

"That the Brazilian model is exported as something special is a grave matter given that it is nothing more than the same: agribusiness, monoculture, and trans-nationals," states Moreno. "The other issue that calls for concern is that the cultivation of bio-fuels constitutes, as we are already seeing with sugar cane, a vast new frontier in the expansion of GM products, whose risks and impacts create more and more concern and rejection in general and continue to erode sovereignty over strategic resources."

She adds that "Within the Brazilian civil society, ethanol is viewed as a symbol of environmental degradation, rising costs, and land speculation caused by the expulsion of campesinos from their farms, soil contamination, and an excessive use of water, an increasing use of pesticides, air pollution as a result of slash and burn agriculture - a method used in areas with large plantations (as in Sao Paulo) - which produces respiratory problems throughout the surrounding population, in addition to the effects on plantation workers."

The sugar cane sector in Brazil is becoming less and less Brazilian as transnational corporations take more control. The U.S. corporation Monsanto recently bought CanaVialis and Allelyx, the two largest companies dedicated to the genetics and development of sugar cane varieties in Brazil.

Moreno insists that it is possible to work with bio-fuels but only when it is on a small scale and within a subsistence model for local markets. In addition, such a process should be seen within a different energy and societal model. In other words, "The use of bio-fuels to sustain the same industrial agro-exporting model that supports the current modern consumerist society, which has in turn generated the climate change crisis, will only result in a cure that is worse than the disease. We cannot take any more risks. We have to look for real solutions, particularly on a human scale."

NO to Biofuels for Aviation

The Argentine organization Action for Biodiversty (Acción para la Biodiversidad) has joined the international campaign directed by the German NGO Salva la Selva to demand that the European Commission stop financing research and development of bio-fuels for aviation purposes.

"Aviation agrofuels will create more greenhouse gases, more climate change, hunger (as food is displaced and food prices pushed up), deforestation, and displacement of rural communities, as well as more of the local environmental damage created by expanding airports and increased numbers of flights," warns Salva la Selva.

They believe that aviation provides a vast new market for agrofuels, as it is predicted that the aeronautics industry will see an annual increase of 3 to 4% in the next few decades. This will no doubt put pressure on the industry to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Four airlines have already undertaken test flights using fuels made from a vegetable oil base.

Companies are also interested in developing aviation fuels from wood, crops, and other solid biomass, according to Salva la Selva. "Much of this research involves genetically engineered microbes and algae, with unknown and potentially very serious impacts on the environment. In the short term, palm oil is the most likely feedstock: Neste Oil says that they could easily convert the world's biggest palm oil biofuel refinery, which they are building to produce fuel for aircraft."

MEXICO: African Palm Plantations Wreak Havoc

Friends of the Earth International and The World Rainforest Movement (WRM) have denounced an increase in the planting of African Oil Palms in the southeastern state of Chiapas, pushed by the Mexican government since 2004. This increase is wreaking havoc on the environment and damaging the biodiversity of the region. And the increase is expected to grow. The government hopes to see the planting of oil palm in Chiapas reach nearly 109,000 acres in 2009 alone. A goal of 247,000 acres planted with the palm by 2012 and 2.2 million acres over the following years, has already been set by the Chiapas governor.

According to the international declaration against the "Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil," monoculture oil palm plantations "replace tropical forests and other ecosystems, leading to serious deforestation together with loss of biodiversity, flooding, the worsening of droughts, soil erosion, pollution of water courses, and the appearance of pests due to a breakdown in the ecological balance and to changes in food chains". Additionally, monoculture oil palm plantations "also endanger the conservation of water, soil, flora, and fauna. Forest degradation diminishes their climatic functions and their disappearance affects humanity as a whole."

"The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Forests identified as causes of deforestation and forest degradation governmental policies to replace forests with industrial tree plantations - such as oil palm - in addition to the advance of the agricultural frontier, pushed forward by monoculture tree plantations," states the most recent bulletin from WRM. "Nevertheless, in the Montes Azules region, where deforestation has reached 80% of the 220,000 hectares of forest, the government is talking of creating 'protection belts through high impact production projects, such as oil palm,' among others."

Gustavo Castro Soto of Friends of the Earth International declares: "There is no doubt that great business deals are made at the expense of the poor, on their lands and territories, and at the cost of humanity's common assets. Enough of monoculture plantations!"


AIRLINES SLASH FLIGHTS TO EUROPE

The economic crisis has transformed flying in Europe for British passengers, new research reveals

Charles Starmer-Smith - Daily Telegraph - 31 July 2009

Airline cut-backs could mean less competition, less choice and higher fares

According to the OAG, the aviation analysts, up to 140 routes from Britain to mainland Europe have disappeared in the past year. Meanwhile, flights to other destinations have been cut as airlines seek to make savings in the face of falling passenger numbers and rising costs.

Regional airports have been hardest hit as airlines contract after two decades of unprecedented expansion. For many passengers, this could mean less competition, less choice and higher fares. Many may face longer journeys via London, or to alternative regional airports, raising concerns for those who have bought second homes on the back of new routes. Coventry and Shoreham-by-Sea have already lost all their international flights in the past year.

"We don't want to get back to 10 or 15 years ago when, if you were able to fly from a regional airport, then it would be hugely expensive - that would be a real shame," said Simon Evans, chairman of the Air Transport Users Council (AUC). "But if Ryanair is hurting, you can be sure that everyone else is."

The OAG figures show that in the 12 months to June more than 20 routes to Spain were scrapped. These include Madrid from East Midlands, Birmingham and Leeds/Bradford, Malaga from Coventry and Teesside, and Valencia from Liverpool, Heathrow and Leeds/Bradford. Although new routes to the Balearics, Canaries and Valencia have been introduced, most places are now served by fewer flights.

The Spanish government, rocked this week by terrorist bomb attacks, said the number of British visitors to the country fell by nearly 17 per cent between January and May, compared with the same period last year. Spain's tourist authorities are now taking drastic action to win back tourists. By cutting landing charges to zero, it has enticed Ryanair into opening 16 new routes to the Canaries this winter.

Last week Ryanair announced it was abandoning dozens of routes from Stansted and Dublin, blaming the "suicidal air taxes" set by the British and Irish governments. Air Passenger Duty is due to increase again on all short-haul departures from £10 to £12 by next November.

BAA said this week that passenger numbers at Stansted have fallen by more than 14 per cent this year, while passenger numbers at Gatwick and Heathrow have fallen by 10 per cent and four per cent respectively.

"There has been a sea change - airlines are responding quicker to market conditions and every route now has to pay," said Mr Evans. "Five years ago the likes of Ryanair could swoop into obscure destinations on the back of pent-up demand, high levels of disposable income, and migrant workers going back and forth - but the weakness of the pound has changed that."

As many as 19 routes to Poland have been cut. Destinations in Turkey, Portugal, France, Ireland and Italy have also been hard hit. Although the OAG figures show that 68 routes have been added in the past year, most involve a low frequency of flights.

Aviation analysts expect that the full effect of the recession will not be felt until autumn, when cash flows slow following the peak summer period. The Airport Operators Association, which represents 72 British airports, has given warning that the APD increase would result in the disappearance of one in 10 routes by the end of this year and force airports out of business.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm, reported that 78 travel companies have collapsed in the past 12 months - compared with 49 in the previous year. Among these were several airlines, including XL and Zoom.

"There are quite a few airlines with big fleets and big networks, and I would not be surprised if we saw more go under," said Mr Evans. Travel companies are pinning their hopes on a revival of foreign travel on continuing bad weather in Britain and a strengthening of the pound.

OUR COMMENT: There's always a coach or train to Europe! Loos are free too! Coaches are no more expensive.

Pat Dale


HOTEL 'LIKE A PRISON'

Dunmow Broadcast - 30 July 2009

A 300-ROOM hotel just one mile from the outskirts of Takeley has been given planning permission, with officials warning that further development is now likely to follow.

Located just off the A120 eastbound carriageway, a site has been earmarked for the construction of a four-storey hotel with a restaurant and car park, replacing parts of an ancient hedgerow. Described as a budget hotel in its planning application, the building will be sited on a large area of land that previously had been designated for hotels within the limits of Stansted Airport.

Despite opposition from the village's parish council, which questioned the need for further hotels with airport passenger numbers declining, permission was granted last Wednesday by Uttlesford District Council's development control committee. Developers Arora International now have a three-year period in which to begin work.

However, not all councillors agreed on aspects of the building's design. Cllr Christina Cant said: "I am annoyed - an ancient hedge full of wildlife will be removed to make way for a car park. We should have insisted that the car park was shaped around it and keep the entire hedge. It is a shame because parts of it will be eroded and something else will be built on it."

After recommending that the council should give planning consent, Uttlesford's chief planning officer, Mike Ovenden, advised councillors that any land left on the pocket of land would probably be ogled by developers in the future. "I would not be surprised if the council was asked to approve something on the rest of the site in the future," he said.

Takeley parish councillors are disappointed by the news that their village will be further blighted by airport-related development.

A spokesman said: "The proposed building is too tall and will have an unacceptable visual impact. Illumination from the site will have a detrimental impact on the amenity of residents, in particular around Takeley Street. The design is featureless, unsightly and totally inappropriate given the rural location. The drawings make it look like a prison facility."


AIR CARGO COULD DEFLATE BY 33%

Alex Lennane - International Freighting Weekly - 4 August 2009

More shippers switching to sea freight to cut costs

The air freight industry could lose more than a third of its traditional business through modal shift by the end of this year, according to freight forwarders. Shippers in air freight markets such as perishables, pharmaceuticals and hi-tech goods are increasingly adapting their supply chains to accommodate sea freight.

"Thus far we have seen about 27% make the change," said Bob Imbriani, VP for international operations, at Associated Global Systems in New York. "We do monitor this closely, which is why we can give you this precise number. We see this trend increasing," he added. "It will vary by industry and commodity, but I feel it can be as high as 35%."

Peter Ulber, executive VP for sea and air logistics at Kuehne + Nagel said: "A number of commodities have switched to sea freight, including technology. We are now seeing laptops and PCs go by ocean - no-one would have done this a couple of years ago. And the pharmaceutical industry is now sending quite expensive goods by sea freight. There's a real effort by our customers to redesign their supply chains. It's probably something that companies considered doing anyway, but the urgency wasn't there before."

The goods are unlikely to switch back to air even if there is an upturn in the market, said Robert Frei, head of corporate air freight at Panalpina. "The shift to ocean freight has been substantial and due to the cost pressure many former users of air freight such as hi-tech and telecoms have adapted their supply chains accordingly - so we do not believe this freight will come back to a great extent to air."

But Mark Mohr, manager for product development and speciality sales at Continental Airlines, believes air freight is still key in the supply chain. "To a certain degree, that may prove to be true. However, with consumer demand being highly volatile, it would seem to indicate more frequent ad hoc air moves when inventory levels weaken. Ocean shipping requires a pretty predictable level of inventory management," he said.

"These shortened supply chains are also indicative of concern for future fuel prices."

"Once consumer demand picks up, the uncontrollable nature of fuel costs is going to force companies to move operations closer to end-user markets as the costs will destroy any advantage that lower-cost, long distance modes currently enjoy."


JACOBS RECEIVES CONTRACT FROM BAA
FOR NEW ENERGY CENTRE AT LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT

Press Release - Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., Pasadena, USA - 4 August 2009

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. announced today that it has received a contract from BAA to provide full-spectrum engineering design services for the new Energy Centre and associated distribution systems at London Heathrow Airport. Officials did not disclose the contract value.

In making the announcement, Jacobs Group Vice President Allyn Taylor stated, "We are delighted to have won this opportunity to further our relationship with BAA and to provide additional services at Heathrow. This technically challenging and high-profile project will draw on a number of Jacobs' specialist capabilities to support BAA in its carbon-reduction strategy."

The new Energy Centre, which combines a substantial Combined Heat and Power element, renewable fuels and conventional plant technology, will mark a significant step toward fulfilling BAA's commitment to a low-carbon strategy for the campus. When completed, the Energy Centre will serve the heat and power demands of the new Eastern Campus development and allow for expansion as part of a long-term strategy to link airport-generating assets.

In this project, Jacobs will combine renewable fuel and technology expertise with full multi-disciplinary infrastructure and building design capability, and will provide energy demand profiling, technology performance modeling and assessment of full life environmental, commercial and maintenance options prior to developing the scheme design.

Jacobs, with annual revenues exceeding $12 billion, is one of the world's largest and most diverse providers of technical, professional, and construction services.

Any statements made in this release that are not based on historical fact are forward-looking statements. Although such statements are based on management's current estimates and expectations, and currently available competitive, financial, and economic data, forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. We, therefore, caution the reader that there are a variety of factors that could cause business conditions and results to differ materially from what is contained in our forward-looking statements.

For a description of some of the factors which may occur that could cause actual results to differ from our forward-looking statements please refer to our 2008 Form 10-K, and in particular the discussions contained under Items 1 - Business, 1A - Risk Factors, 3 - Legal Proceedings, and 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. We also caution the readers of this release that we do not undertake to update any forward-looking statements made herein.

OUR COMMENT: Expensive Low Carbon Energy for the airport, but it won't compensate for the extra carbon in the sky if expansion goes ahead!

Pat Dale


MORE PAIN FOR DEBT-HIT BAA
AS TRAVELLERS CUT BACK ON FLYING

Nick Goodway - Evening Standard - 29 July 2009

Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports owner BAA slumped to a loss of £545 million in the first six months of the year, as recession-hit travellers cut back on trips and its pension fund deficit ballooned.

The debt-laden operator, which is owned by Spanish building group Ferrovial, also said that it was still in ongoing talks with several potential buyers of Gatwick, despite recent reports that the two main bidders had walked away.

Colin Matthews, BAA's chief executive, said that given the economic circumstances, with passenger numbers falling for 14 consecutive months, the group's financial results were good.

He said: "We invested more than £500 million in improvements, particularly at Heathrow Terminal Four and Terminal Two, and these results are in line with our expectations." Matthews emphasised that BAA is still investing for the future at the three airports and is seeing improved returns where work has been completed.

Cash generated from operations rose 42% in the first six months to £431 million, while pre-tax losses before non-cash exceptional pension charges and depreciation doubled from £71.4 million to £140 million.

BAA was ordered to sell both Gatwick and Stansted by the Competition Commission earlier this year, but last month it was reported that a consortium led by Manchester Airport Group had walked away from a deal after offering £1.4 billion - £100 million less than the asking price.

Analysts are worried that without a sale of Gatwick BAA would have difficulty repaying £1 billion of its £12 billion of debt which falls due in the spring of next year.

Matthews declined to comment in detail on sale talks, but said "That this level of cash flow shows is that we will be able to repay our 2010 debt maturities with or without a Gatwick sale. We still have multiple players interested in Gatwick and talks are still going on. But we don't have to sell Gatwick if we don't reckon we are getting a decent price."

Today's numbers clearly show that Heathrow is holding up better than the more holiday-oriented Gatwick and Stansted. Heathrow's passenger numbers are down by less, while the amount spent by customers in terminal shops and bars and on services like car parking has climbed more quickly than at the other airports.

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN

Passengers by airport millions (six months to end-June)


20092008% change
Heathrow31.232.5-3.8
Gatwick114.816.4-9.8
Stansted9.210.8-14.4
Passengers by destination
UK5.25.8-9.9
Europe30.232.7-7.8
Long haul19.921.2-6.0
Total passengers55.259.6-7.4


RUN DOWN AIRPORTS

Editorial - Evening Standard - 29 July 2009

BAA's comments today on the sale - or lack of it - of Gatwick and Stansted airports are a reminder of a serious dilemma for the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis. In March, the Competition Commission rightly ordered the company, which controls most of the runway capacity in the South East, to sell off the two airports, while keeping Heathrow. However, in the midst of recession, the process is not going well. One frontrunner recently withdrew from the bidding, though BAA chif executive Colin Matthews says other talks continue.

Meanwhile, there are indications that BAA's debt-laden Spanish owner, Ferrovial, has little inclination to invest in the airports. Facilities are looking shabby and it is the travelling public that suffers.

The grim truth is that the assets may get more run-down while the price reaches a point where a bidder decides that they have a bargain. But any buyer must pump in cash to improve the facilities. Lord Adonis's department, which is conducting a review of airport regulation, must ensure that whether these airports stay with BAA or are sold, they are not run on the cheap.


BAA / RYANAIR

Financial Times - 22 July 2009

Michael O'Leary is not someone to let an inconvenient truth obstruct a higher public relations mission. The "unacceptable face of capitalism", as Mr O'Leary's Irish critics have dubbed Ryanair's chief executive, has launched a salvo against airport fees in the UK generally and BAA in particular, which owns Stansted, Ryanair's UK base. Because they are high, Mr O'Leary is slashing winter flights and moving jets elsewhere.

This is disingenuous. Ryanair, like all airlines, is cutting winter capacity. Furthermore, Stansted has never charged airlines as much as its regulators allow. Last year, the fee cap was set at £6.44. Stansted charged £5.50. This gap is a consequence of the bargaining power of its main users, Ryanair and EasyJet, and the competition it faces from other European airports.

Unlike long-haul carriers, which need to maintain feeder routes into their hubs, low-cost carriers run a series of point-to-point businesses. Aircraft are therefore mobile assets that can be parked wherever and whenever it is cheapest or most profitable to do so. Ryanair is only responding to market forces. When summer demand returns, so will the aircraft. As for UK passenger taxes, these are set to rise by 10 per cent to £11 per passenger in November, which Mr O'Leary says damages "London and UK tourism and the British economy generally". It is true that UK duties are a European anomaly. Yet the marginal effect of that increase on a holiday's total cost is minuscule.

The 9 per cent depreciation of sterling against the euro over the past 12 months has had a far greater impact - and may even encourage more holidaymakers to visit Britain on Ryanair than it has stopped others travelling to Europe. Mr O'Leary wants to have his cake and be applauded for eating it too.

BACKGROUND NEWS
Ryanair, Europe's biggest low-cost carrier, plans to cut services at London Stansted and Dublin, its two largest bases, this winter as it pares loss-making routes and moves aircraft to airports in continental Europe to benefit from lower charges. Michael O'Leary, the group's chief executive, used the capacity cuts as a weapon in his long-running battle with Stansted, which is owned by BAA, a subsidiary of Spain's Ferrovial, and with state-owned Dublin airport, over airport fees. He also blamed the cuts on planned increases in air passenger taxes in the UK and Ireland. Mr O'Leary said: "Sadly, UK traffic and tourism continue to collapse while Ryanair continues to grow traffic rapidly in those countries that welcome tourists instead of taxing them."


REGULATORY CHANGES NEEDED TO END HEATHROW HELL

Rupert Darwall - Reuters Online - 24 July 2009

Rupert Darwall is a guest columnist. The views expressed are his own. A London-based strategist, he is author of Reluctant Managers, a study of Whitehall performance (KPMG, 2006)

If April is the cruellest month, then July can be awful for people using Heathrow. Business travel is still humming and the holiday season is getting into full swing.

Even with Terminal 5, Heathrow can't take the strain. Its two runways are used at 98.5 percent capacity and there are simply not enough gates and stands. A ten-minute delay is programmed into Heathrow's schedule. Because there's no spare capacity, when things go wrong, the slightest change - even in the weather - can lead to aircraft being held in stacks and flights being cancelled

You'd have thought that the UK government's review of the way Heathrow is regulated, consultation on which ended last month, would want to root out what causes Heathrow to be so congested, but you'd be wrong.

Although the Competition Commission believes that the way the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulates Heathrow stifles competition and contributes to the airport's poor performance, the government seems reluctant to do anything about it.

Perhaps it feels that enough is already being done by forcing BAA, which owns London's three main airports, to sell two of them. But that on its own won't make life any easier for the millions of passengers who are forced to endure Heathrow misery each year.

Heathrow is congested because incentives in the system reward congestion. BAA is paid as a toll collector, not for delivering a punctual and reliable schedule, so it makes more money the more passengers are pushed through Heathrow's overloaded terminals and runways.

Another perverse incentive is the way BAA's returns are linked to the size of its regulated asset base. Because the charges it can levy on airlines are capped below market rates and linked firmly to the size of the airport's regulatory asset base, it encourages the operator to add to its assets to the maximum extent possible, irrespective of the value for money of the new investment. Hence the incredible costs it runs up on new investments. Terminal 5 cost 5 billion pounds and the third runway and terminal 6 are projected to cost 10 billion pounds.

Rewarding BAA for building high cost capacity means the only way for airlines to contain the rise in passenger charges is by sucking in huge increases in transfer passengers to keep passenger charges within the bounds of affordability. The perceived environmental nuisance makes it much harder for Heathrow to get planning approval for new runway capacity needed to reduce congestion.

BAA can't be blamed for responding to incentives set by the CAA and Heathrow is now better managed than under the old BAA.

Unfortunately all the signs are that the government is blowing the opportunity to get regulation right. The review has focused on the irrelevant area of the CAA's legal duties. It did not, as the Competition Commission suggested, analyse how the CAA's regulatory approach has caused Heathrow's poor performance.

If Heathrow is ever going to be an efficient airport, the place to start is with regulation:
? Give BAA responsibility for defining and managing Heathrow's current capacity
? Pay BAA for running a punctual airport and penalises it for not doing so
? Replace the incentive for BAA to bloat its investment programme with ones that are better aligned with its customers' interests

Changing the CAA's legal duties to put the passenger first without changing the detailed mechanics sounds nice but is a formula for gridlock. The cure for Heathrow hassle lies in a better system of regulation. It isn't too late for the government to change tack and address the problems of London's main airport. But if it just leaves the CAA to muddle on under the current system, Heathrow's passengers face many more summers of misery ahead.


THE DOWNSIDE OF MORE EXPANSION - RESIDENTS' VIEWS

Star keeps up the pressure on flights

Evening Star - 21 July 2009

JUST like residents of the beautiful and peaceful Dedham Vale, the Felixstowe peninsula has experienced a "dramatic and unexpected" change in its tranquillity in the past five years. Hundreds of jets now go over the area every day and night - robbing it of its peace and quiet - and the situation will only get worse in the future. RICHARD CORNWELL reports.

THEY march across our Suffolk skies in an endless procession, noisily invading our ear-space. These are the jets that many of us use for travel, or business, or both.

So those of us who enjoy benefits of "the high-life" risk being accused of hypocrisy when it comes to attacking the noise levels which affect us when we are on the ground.

It's worth stressing, therefore, that as aircraft numbers passing over Suffolk airspace have rocketed, The Evening Star's Air Fair campaign wasn't launched as an attempt to remove planes - and their noise - from our skies. We launched Air Fair because of the secrecy and scale of the changes which increased dramatically the number of planes on flightpaths over our towns and villages, and proposals which in the next 20 years will double the number of jets.

Changes forced on us by a private, profit-hungry, firm which controls air movements in this country - NATS' profits in the past 12 months were £135 million, double the previous year - and the government which insists air traffic will grow no matter what.

We know - and are on record for saying - that we all should share the burden of burgeoning flights and the noise and pollution jets bring in their wake. It is just that in certain places the burden has become odious and unfair - the precious "sound" of Suffolk silence has been stolen from locals by NATS, which, amazingly, denies there have been any recent changes.

To us - just like the people in Constable Country - there has been a "dramatic and unexpected" impact on our lives. And that's why this week we are re-doubling our efforts on your behalf - taking on NATS, and its colleague, the Civil Aviation Authority.

As well as the weak-willed Suffolk councils which have stood by and let it all happen around and above them. On the ground the councils are all-powerful when it comes to planning law - in the skies they are impotent to the march of the jet-liner.

By the way, for those lucky enough to be reading this article in peace and solitude, there is every good reason not to be complacent - the skies are certain to become more crowded and noisy in the years ahead unless we win our fight to change flightpaths.

In just one air corridor, over Walton/Trimley and the Suffolk coast recently, 257 jets passed over in a ten-hour period. They travelled at multi levels, east to west and west to east in a cavalcade which would have been worthy of a major international air show. And yet NATS says nothing is changing, that a status quo exists.

To us that statement challenges our belief in NATS and the information the organisation is giving us. Puzzlingly, officials say they can't do what The Evening Star has done - telling the public details of air traffic numbers, exactly how many planes are passing over a certain town or village on a flightpath used day after day. And if the organisation can't tell how many planes they are dealing with, shouldn't we be worried about that?

As far as the public is concerned The Evening Star's digging is vital - as a private company NATS isn't subject to the fresh air of scrutiny from Freedom of Information requests, it is exempt!

DRAMATIC and unexpected.

Those were the key words when residents of Constable Country took on the aviation authorities in the courts over the number of jet planes foisted on their community - and won. They argued there had been a "dramatic and unexpected" change to the area's tranquillity when changes were made to flightpaths.

When changes are made to airspace next year, those communities on the Suffolk-Essex border will see less planes thanks to their successful High Court case against air traffic management company NATS and the Civil Aviation Authority. It will mean aircraft being diverted away from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to go over other towns and villages instead.

If a court case on the "dramatic and unexpected" change in flight patterns and the disturbance this caused in Dedham can succeed in the High Court, then there is every chance that a similar action for the Felixstowe area would also be victorious.

Those changes to flightpaths in 2004 had exactly the same impact on Felixstowe - increasing the number of planes dramatically. With the area already bombarded by noise - the port, the rail line, the A14 and the general noise of an urban community - no-one noticed the initial increase in air traffic.

People living in the area now though are amazed at the number of planes which go over - one every two minutes at peak times, the deep rumble of one passing often fading into the arrival of the next, creating a dull background roar for long periods at peak times.

At other times up to half a dozen planes can be seen in the sky at one time - flying in different directions and at different heights. Night-time is a kaleidoscope of lights on planes, some particularly low, going in and out.

The changes in airspace in 2004 were specifically created to enable Suffolk's moderately peaceful skies to take on a 35 per cent increase in air traffic.

Incredibly, NATS insist the number of planes in our skies is LESS than before the changes. They say between 2002 and 2007 there was an eight per cent reduction, and a further 0.2pc drop last year.

Yes, there has been a drop in planes in the past year - but that's because of the recession and the number will grow again. It is not the whole story though because what the company is talking about is use of the Clacton Beacon, used by planes as a navigational marker for their journeys across the Suffolk area - not the number of planes which go over the Felixstowe area.

The total number of planes which use the beacon may have reduced slightly but many more than previously of those that do use it are using it to access flightpaths over Felixstowe and the Trimley villages, the Shotley peninsula and Holbrook, - which was the whole point of the changes in 2004, expanding the airspace and taking pressure off Essex, moving the flightpaths north, directly over Felixstowe.

Even NATS' own maps show exactly that's what happened! Prior to 2004 virtually all the planes went over Clacton in a narrow band, and after 2004 the flightpath was expanded and moved north - with the centre line directly over Felixstowe, where the CAA and NATS say planes should be concentrated.

Had airspace change proposals put forward last year been adopted, the situation over Felixstowe would have got even worse with even more planes concentrated over the town. NATS says it does not keep records of planes using particular flightpaths, but all they really need to do is to look skywards - and visit Suffolk to see for themselves the impact their air traffic control is having on the county.

COMMUNITIES are today being affected as never before - as the noise from jet planes over Suffolk continues to get worse. An Evening Star survey of just one of the flightpaths passing over the Felixstowe area found 257 planes during a 10-hour period. The survey undertaken by the Evening Star in the twin Trimley villages recorded a passenger jet, on average, every 2.3 minutes.

Campaigners say the number of planes witnessed during the survey was astonishing because the recording focussed on just one flightpath - and there are several which go over the area on different routes. Planes which could be seen on the other paths were ignored in order to concentrate on one corridor.

The planes came through in quick succession, sometimes two or three at a time in the same small corridor, meaning the sound from one merged with the others. We estimated that each plane carried with it around 80 seconds of noise - the roar of one overhead fading into the noise of the next in a constant drone.

This was a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon when people would be relaxing in their gardens with a drink or a book or enjoying a rest - expecting to enjoy peace and quiet.

Residents in Suffolk are increasingly frustrated at the noise from jet planes ruining the county's peace and tranquillity and are anxiously waiting for air traffic management company NATS to reveal its revised plans for future flightpaths. The company has promised less people will be affected by planes in the future when the airspace is reorganised.

Are you annoyed by the increasing number of planes in our skies? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

OUR CAMPAIGN: Air Fair

Government is encouraging a dramatic increase in air travel - and that will have huge consequences for Suffolk's skies and the communities which live below them. More than 1,200 planes currently cross Suffolk every day and the number is set to grow hugely - possibly double - in the next two decades. The planes bring noise, pollution, and blot out the sun with their contrails, and the fear is flights will get lower.

Our campaign agrees with and supports Stansted Airport at its current flight and passenger limits - we do not agree with its agreed expansion or the second runway plan, which will have an intolerable impact on the quality of life of people in Suffolk.

The campaign wants a full review of pollution being caused by the jets - both the impact on ozone layer and on the environment at ground level - and of the increasing noise being caused by the aircraft 24/7. We want assurances that planes will not be allowed to fly lower than the present lowest levels across Suffolk.

There must also be a full review of the current flightpaths to look at the possibility of moving flight corridors on a regular basis so the same communities do not suffer noise nuisance incessantly.


A FINE GREEN START, BUT MILIBAND MUST GO FURTHER

Editorial - The Observer - 19 July 2009

There is much to be said in favour of the government's plan, announced last week, for kickstarting a revolution in green energy generation in Britain. For the first time, ministers made it clear how Britain can expect to achieve their much-vaunted goal of making serious reductions in our carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade.

The cabinet had already committed the nation to generating 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Now, through the UK Carbon Transition Plan, published last Wednesday, it has made it clear exactly how this radical change will be brought about. It will be achieved by the nation making a major commitment to wind power, it transpires.

New planning laws will make it easier to build onshore wind farms while a total of £160m funding is to be provided to promote offshore wind technology. Turbines will soon dominate the nation's countryside and seashore, if the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, has his way.

Other measures are also to be introduced. Lavish sums will be spent making homes energy efficient, smart meters will revolutionise the use of domestic electricity and householders will be given cash for generating their own power. Nevertheless, wind power remains the dominant technology for bringing about this rapid change in energy generation.

It is a comprehensive package and, if nothing else, it brings a much-needed accountability to the manner in which we deal with climate change in this country. Mr Miliband deserves considerable credit for ensuring that this has happened. He has taken the government from a position of merely making vague proposals for achieving carbon emission cuts and has, instead, given us a specific recipe for responding to global warming in the short term.

That is the encouraging news. However, many key issues remain unaddressed by Miliband and his civil servants. For a start, their carbon transition plan is limited in its horizons. It is a first step - and no more - towards the creation of a fully integrated climate change policy that incorporates all aspects of life in Britain. Consider its timetable. The measures taken under the plan are geared largely to achieving the government's carbon cuts pledge by the year 2020.

By contrast, scant attention is given to the manner in which we bring about an 80 per cent cut in carbon emissions by the year 2050, another government pledge.

Viewed from this perspective, the transition plan can be seen in its true colours: as a necessary first step towards a far grander plan. Certainly, it contains little evidence that much consideration has been given by ministers or civil servants to the long-term planning that will be needed truly to radicalise energy production in the United Kingdom.

This last point is underlined when the transition plan's two companion documents - also published last week - are examined. These focus on bringing the changes that must occur in transport and in business if we are to make full-scale carbon cuts and if we are to transform UK industry into one that can provide the kinds of green technology that will make money for Britain in an overheating world.

In contrast to Mr Miliband's plans, both reviews are conspicuous for their lack of content, particularly that concerned with transport. Yet consider the issues: aviation, including the plan for a third runway at Heathrow; carbon emissions from shipping; the need for the electrification of the nation's railways; and the vexed problem of road-building and support for the introduction of electric cars in Britain. All are acknowledged as issues for the future and that is all. It is grim and unsatisfying reading.

Transport and industrial issues are some of the most pressing concerns that face Britain as it squares up to the challenges of global warming and its attendant risks of rising seas and changing weather patterns. Mr Miliband has made a commendable start. This cannot be said for the rest of the government.


EXPENSIVE AIR TRAVEL? IT'S JUST NOT CRICKET

David Mitchell - The Observer - 19 July 2009

What would you say was the purpose of the England and Wales Cricket Board? To encourage people to watch or play cricket? To force people to watch or play cricket against their will? To destroy all cricket except for English cricket (and some Welsh cricket, but only as a sort of Vichy-style puppet cricket)? To nail every cricket in England and Wales to a board? To promote golf?

It turns out it's the last. Thanks to the ECB's sale of the cricket TV rights to Sky, the live sport on terrestrial television this weekend is the Open, not the Lord's Test. In 2005, 8.4m watched the Channel 4 coverage of the climactic Sunday of an Ashes Test match. Last Sunday's nail-biter in Cardiff peaked at only 1.5m, which may be massive for a subscription channel, but is shit for cricket and its chances of attracting new fans.

Why did the ECB make this insane choice? For money. It forgot about building on Test cricket's growing popularity after 2005's triumph, about keeping it a presence in our national life on a channel people receive automatically, and it took a big cheque. It's as if it was getting out of cricket - selling up for a fast buck, taking the money and running. But it can't run - it's English cricket's governing body - so it's left holding the money while it stares at the diminished popularity and, therefore, significance, of English cricket as a result of its actions. If it's not run by golf enthusiasts, it's run by fools.

Ed Miliband is not a fool, but last week showed himself just as fond as the ECB of short-term gain when he promised to safeguard cheap air travel despite the need to cut carbon emissions. Otherwise, he said, it would mean "you would go back to 1974 levels of flying". Well, if he thinks that's the worst the environmental future could hold, he hasn't been doing his boxes. "I don't want to have a situation where only rich people can afford to fly," he continued. Who does? But then it wouldn't be the end of the world. Whereas ...

Miliband clearly thinks that being seen to jeopardise the annual British exodus to drink colder lager somewhere hotter is political harakiri. He's probably right. While he may not be the most statesmanlike steward of our environmental future, he clearly knows how to keep his head above water in a sinking government (and if he has that skill literally as well as metaphorically he's got less to fear from climate change than most).

He may represent a political class that wouldn't tell you if the room in which you were standing was on fire because predictions of smoke inhalation play badly in key marginals, but his remarks give an unsettling insight into our national obsession with cheap foreign holidays.

To deny us them is like a Roman emperor running out of bread and circuses, a French president failing to defend the Common Agricultural Policy or a Russian leader being pleasant: the people won't stand for it.

Think of the other sacrifices combating climate change may involve - massively more expensive electricity; severely rationed water; a landscape humming with wind farms or hundreds of nuclear power stations, each threatening to China syndrome western Europe if a senior technician has a bad hangover day; removing the very tea from the used teabags and recycling the perforations; having to get up to turn the television on.

And think of what we could face if we don't make those sacrifices: the sea advancing up the Kilburn High Road; hurricanes alternating with droughts; all the fish and bees dying; weird Mediterranean insects and aggressive freshwater lobsters finding their perfect habitat in the Yorkshire Dales; more English wine.

Yet, to the British, neither eventuality is half as terrifying as losing our easyJet privileges. Apparently we feel there's no point keeping the planet habitable unless we've still got quick access to Disney World and Ibiza. This is bizarre and depressing. It makes me need a holiday. Are our existences so miserable that we're only living for two weeks of escape? Have we given up on the other 50, like people who give to animal charities have presumably given up on humans?

The media reaction when there's, say, an air traffic controllers' strike in August, certainly implies some kind of national neurosis. Stranded holidaymakers are spoken to, and behave, like victims of an atrocity. The cameras pan along queues of heartbroken Britons in flipflops. "I don't know how they can do this to people!" complains someone with a tragic expression and a Hawaiian shirt as if he's talking about extraordinary rendition. Don't these thoughtless foreign trade unionists understand that it's not just people's lives or livelihoods or children or homes that they're toying with, but their holidays?

What makes all this even sadder is that so many holidays are a huge disappointment. Hotels don't look like the photos, the beaches are crowded, the food gives you the runs, you're more stuck with your bloody family than ever. And however idyllic the destination, what series of experiences can live up to such rabid expectations of joy? This is why I don't think I'll ever watch The Wire - it literally cannot be as good as people say unless it turns out not to be a TV programme but a cream-cake-bottle-of-whisky-orgasm combo.

Holidays aren't for going on, still less for feeling rested by, but for looking forward to. They distract us from the daily grind because they're a light at the end of the tunnel, just before the next tunnel. As soon as we return from a trip, exhausted, broke and disappointed, we feel the overwhelming urge to book another one so we can look forward to that.

So it surely doesn't much matter what holidays actually involve. Even in Miliband's 1974 dystopia, when fewer of us went abroad, the prospect of trips to Cornwall or Blackpool kept us at least as sane as our hopes for Gatwick-launched escape do today. We've randomly fetishised "sunshine" and "abroad". But fads change. If we could only switch to "drizzle" and "model villages" then politicians might pluck up the courage to make burning kerosene as costly for us as it is for the environment.


AIRLINES FACE E1BN CARBON BILL UNDER EU ETS

ENDS Europe DAILY - 22 July 2009

Airlines joining Europe's emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2012 may have to buy E1.1bn worth of carbon allowances to meet an emissions cap for flights into and out of the EU, market analyst Point Carbon told journalists on Wednesday.

The cost of buying allowances could be higher as the analyst's estimate is based on today's carbon price, with carbon trading at E14.40 per tonne. Point Carbon predicts the carbon price will reach E20 per tonne in 2012. Under ETS rules, airlines will have to pay for 15% of their allowance allocation.

Airlines could significantly reduce their carbon bill if they buy cheaper CO2 credits from emission reduction projects under the UN's flexible mechanisms CDM and JI, Point Carbon points out. There is a 15% limit on the use of these credits.

US airlines Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will face the largest shortfall of allowances in 2012, according to the analyst. They will have to buy 3.5 and 3.3 million tonnes of carbon allowances respectively. American airlines will also face a large bill.

The biggest buyer in the EU will be British Airways with an estimated shortfall of three million tonnes of CO2, predicts Point Carbon. This is more than the total shortfall for all Spanish airlines. Australian airline Quantas could have to buy 2.6 million tonnes of carbon allowances.

The European Commission is expected to set the sector's emissions cap for 2012 within days. EU law says it should be set at 97% of average emissions in 2004-6. The Association of European Airlines believes emissions will be capped at 210 million tonnes.

The commission will then establish individual caps for airlines covered by the ETS, based on tonne-kilometre data determining the market share of each airline. The data will be submitted by the industry next year. In August, the commission will also finalise a list setting out how carbon revenues will be divided among EU states.

OUR COMMENT: Note the "Let out clause" i.e. cheaper credits can be bought through the UN's flexible mechanism. In other words, let the developing countries take on the burden of reducing carbon emissions. Carry on with cheap flights for the western world! Clearly we now need Traidcraft to sort out these Fair Trade issues!

Pat Dale


THE UK RENEWABLE ENERGY STRATEGY

Presented to Parliament by the Minister

Foreword by the Minister - 10 July 2009

To meet the challenge of climate change, we need to save carbon in every sector of the economy ? this will mean a rapid transition to renewable energy.

This Strategy shows how we can reach our goal of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. Doing so will help the UK to lead the industries of the future.

According to recent analysis the renewable energy sector could support up to half a million jobs in the UK by 2020. It will help safeguard the security of our energy system.

The plans here can help reduce the UK's use of fossil fuel by around 10%, and so stem the rise in the UK's use of imported fossil fuels, with our need for gas imports 20-30% lower than they would have been in 2020.

This Strategy shows how we can achieve this transformation. It will involve producing enough energy from renewable sources by 2020 to supply the equivalent of nearly all 26 million homes in the UK with their current electricity needs, and 4 million homes with their current heating needs.

Already, renewable electricity has doubled in the UK in five years, and in the last year alone, onshore wind capacity grew by almost a third, and offshore by two thirds. We already have more offshore wind power than any other country.

The natural resources are there and waiting to be harnessed: two independent reports found the UK has the largest potential for wind energy in Europe, and one of the greatest natural wave power resources in the world.

Government action can shape the market to drive further progress. By next year, for example, the obligation on energy suppliers to get a rising proportion of electricity from renewable sources, combined with the exemption from the Climate Change Levy, will be worth around £1 billion a year to the renewable electricity industry.

Planning decisions and access to the grid are becoming quicker and easier. Households, communities, public services and business will be able to generate their own renewable energy, through the introduction of a new Renewable Heat Incentive and 'Feed-In Tariffs' to provide guaranteed payments for energy they produce.


THE AVIATION POSITION?

We will protect air travel for the masses, says Ed Miliband

Nicholas Watt and Tim Webb - The Guardian - 13 July 2009

Mass air travel will be preserved even in a low-carbon Britain because the government will find deeper emissions cuts in other areas, the climate change secretary Ed Miliband said today.

Dismissing demands for punitive sanctions to curb flying, Miliband said the government was determined to ensure that airline travel remains affordable for ordinary people.

In a Guardian interview, ahead of the publication of a white paper on climate change, Miliband said air travel would become more expensive as Britain tries to meet a G8 target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050. But he said it would be wrong to impose the target on airlines, which will be covered by the European Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012 if they fly to and from the EU.

"Where I disagree with other people on aviation is if you did 80% cuts across the board, as some people have called for on aviation, you would go back to 1974 levels of flying," he said. "I don't want to have a situation where only rich people can afford to fly."

Miliband spoke of the importance of flying for his constituents in Doncaster which has benefited after an RAF airbase was turned into an international airport in 2005. "People in my constituency have benefited from being able to have foreign travel which, 40 years ago, the middle classes took for granted," he said. "There are sacrifices and changes in lifestyle necessary. But the job of government is to facilitate them and understand people's lives and what they value."

The pledge by Miliband echoes remarks by Tony Blair in 2007 who said it would be wrong to impose "unrealistic targets" on airline travellers. Britain has pledged to bring its aviation emissions down to 2005 levels by 2050.

Miliband's remarks are designed to illustrate the government's overall approach to meeting the 2050 target which will not involve imposing a blanket 80% cut on all areas of the economy. The white paper is expected to build on government plans to tolerate relatively high emissions in one area if action is taken in other areas by, for example, lagging lofts and driving less. Carbon levels have already been brought down from 1990 levels, the benchmark for global climate talks. So far they have been reduced by 22% and are due to come down by 34% by 2020, with a target of at least 80% due in 2050.

The government has already announced that will be achieved by dividing the economy into a series of sectors. The biggest is power, with others including transport, homes, work places and agriculture.

Miliband will outline on Wednesday how much carbon Britain is emitting in each area and will suggest steps to bring them down. He refused to outline the details of his white paper out of respect to John Bercow, the new Commons speaker, who has demanded ministers make announcements first to parliament. But he said his philosophy is to outline a vision of "green hope" - with jobs in green technology and a safer country - not "green despair".

"If Martin Luther King had come along and said 'I have a nightmare' people would not have followed him," Miliband said, quoting someone he met at the Guardian's recent Manchester climate change summit. "You have to persuade people that, yes, there are costs of not acting but also there is a vision of society at the end of this: more secure, more prosperous, fairer better quality of life. All those things are crucial to persuade people to take the leap.

"All our research indicates that people in Britain are not climate change deniers. But now they are persuaded it is a problem, you have to start offering them a vision about how you tackle the problem."


ED MILIBAND HAS HIS HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

He is the latest politician to fall for the aviation lobby's
social class argument - but it just doesn't stand up to scrutiny

Leo Hickman - The Guardian - 15 July 2009

Very interesting - and telling - words this week from Ed Miliband regarding the so-called "right to fly". The climate change and energy secretary told the Guardian that he didn't "want to have a situation where only rich people can afford to fly", and would therefore not be seeking to include aviation within the government's broad commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.

"Where I disagree with other people on aviation is if you did 80% cuts across the board, as some people have called for on aviation, you would go back to 1974 levels of flying," he said. Miliband picked out the airport within his own constituency, Doncaster Sheffield, as an example. "People in my constituency have benefited from being able to have foreign travel which, 40 years ago, the middle classes took for granted," he said. "There are sacrifices and changes in lifestyle necessary. But the job of government is to facilitate them and understand people's lives and what they value."

What Miliband seems to be saying is that flying is now so important to people's lives in the UK that it deserves to be treated as a special case. It should be largely immune to the tough targets and systematic transition that all other sectors are going to have to experience if exacting carbon reductions are ever to be achieved. So rather than have fair, across-the-board cuts, Miliband is firing the starter gun for every sector to throw up its hands and say that it too deserves special exemption. To take this to its logical conclusion, someone is going to have to make the decision about who deserves such favouritism.

If aviation is going to be allowed to grow and emit without restrictions, another sector is going to have to make up the shortfall. If we really love flying so much, who do we want this to be? The NHS? Universities? Local authorities? If we really want to start prioritising our most valued services and facilities in this manner, then we need to urgently have that discussion.

But I'm not comfortable whenever the class issue is thrown into the ring to support the aviation lobby's argument. Miliband is the latest person to fall for this old chestnut. It has been a debating tool for years, but it never stands up to scrutiny.

Let's look at Doncaster Sheffield airport, as Miliband is asking - even if it isn't wholly representative. It accounted for less than half of 1% of the total number of UK passengers passing through our airports in 2007, according to the latest Civil Aviation Authority figures, but it does have the highest percentage - 94% - of so-called "leisure" travellers of all the UK airports. These are the types of passengers that come in for the most criticism when people are talking about the growth in discretionary flying over the past decade or so. (This category includes "visiting friends and relatives" - so-called VFRs - which is arguably the least discretionary of all the reasons to fly, but that often gets drowned out in this debate.)

What "class" are these passengers? And has there been a significant shift in their demographic profile over the years? ABC1-type analysis seems to largely ignored or viewed as inherently flawed these days, so let's look at something most people understand - income. Civil Aviation Authority figures for 2007/2008 say that the mean household income of leisure passengers using Doncaster Sheffield airport was £41,016. This compares to the latest Office for National Statistics figures, which state that the average UK household income in 2006/07 was £30,000. The mismatch doesn't exactly lead you to shout "working class all aboard" - and this is for an airport you would consider to support Miliband's argument given its higher-than-average volume of so-called "cheap flights".

When the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University looked at the "socio-demographic characteristics of [UK] air passengers" in its 2006 report Predict and Provide (p29), it concluded that the "available evidence suggests that flying is largely undertaken by those in richer households, and that most of the growth in flying is coming from people in such households flying more often". Again, it doesn't exactly support Miliband's argument that the skies are now awash with the working class, say, taking mini-breaks to Europe, or visiting their second homes abroad.

And all this in the week when the airline industry - already one of the most cosseted sectors in the world due to its advantageous tax breaks on fuel - is saying it is suffering an "annus horribilis". Are we really going to fall for yet another well-orchestrated sob story from the world's fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions?


BRITAIN MAY GO BACK ON ITS PROMISE
NOT TO BUY 'PERRMITS TO POLLUTE' FROM POOR NATIONS

Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor - Times Online - 15 July 2009

Britain's plan to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by more than a third by 2022 could be achieved by buying "permits to pollute" from poor countries rather than genuine reductions in domestic emissions, according to documents seen by The Times.

A draft copy of the Government's energy strategy, due to be published today, reveals that ministers have considered scrapping a commitment made three months ago intended to prevent the UK from buying so-called "carbon offsets" from developing nations. It states that while genuine cuts would be preferable, carbon offsets - where one country is paid to make reductions in emissions on another?s behalf - should be reserved as an "insurance option".

The report also suggests that the Government might need to overturn a commitment made in the Budget by Alistair Darling that Britain would not resort to carbon offsets to meet its emission reduction targets before 2012.

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, will today set out a plan for UK emissions cuts of 34 per cent by 2022 and at least 80 per cent by 2050 to reduce the threat posed by global warming.

But while the shift to a low-carbon economy is meant to ensure that Britain moves away from imported oil and gas towards lower-carbon energy sources such as wind and nuclear power, a debate is raging over the role that international carbon markets can play in meeting these goals.

Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said that carbon offsetting amounted to little more than an "accounting trick". "We have a chance to transform the UK economy but that can only be achieved by investing in a green recovery package. If we choose to offset we are just throwing money into a broken mechanism." Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement, said: "Carbon trading places the burden on poor countries to reduce their carbon emissions so that we can continue to pollute."

But Abyd Karmali, president of the Carbon Markets and Investors Association (CMIA), said: "Carbon offsets are a sensible and economically rational approach for the UK Government. It is critical to have mechanisms that will allow for financial innovation in the environmental space." He said that the Government could choose to invest directly in projects that reduce emissions, such as wind farms in developing countries like India, as an alternative to more expensive, similar projects in Britain.

He said that ultimately, the UK could pay a country such as Brazil to buy "avoided deforestation credits". The Government is committed by law to a phased reduction in carbon emissions over three five-year periods starting in 2008. From 2013 emissions should be further reduced to 28 per cent below 1990 levels and the third period, from 2018, should see emissions cut to 34 per cent below 1990 levels.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The aim is to meet the target for the budget periods through domestic action alone." Britain is already a member of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme that brokers the exchange of carbon dioxide permits between operators of power stations and factories.


MILIBAND'S CARRY ON AVIATION POLICY

Letters to the Guardian on the climate change policies and aviation's position

The Guardian - 16 July 2009

Aviation's greenhouse gas emissions are a problem for the UK, despite the climate change secretary's view that we can simply lag our lofts, drive less and carry on flying, presumably with Sid James at the aircraft's controls and Hattie Jacques serving the drinks.

If proof were needed that those flogging cheap seats target high-income groups, the regular Ryanair advertisements in the Guardian show who Michael O'Leary wants on board. The average household income of leisure passengers using Stansted, Ryanair's biggest UK base, is £47,000.

In 2006, a report for Defra forecast UK domestic and international aviation emissions could be as high as 165m tonnes of CO2 by 2050, considerably higher than the DfT's forecasts, both then and now. Given that the UK's 2050 target for CO2 emissions economy-wide is in the region of 150m tonnes, it appears we will be a teeny bit overdrawn at the carbon bank.

But there is an even bigger challenge ahead: aviation emissions, including nitrogen oxide and condensation trails, make an overall contribution to climate change twice that of CO2 alone, equivalent to 330m tonnes of CO2 by 2050. I would be interested to hear how Mr Miliband proposes to make this work.

Jeffrey Gazzard
Aviation Environment Federation


Quite rightly, no politician wants to stop people going on holiday. But given that aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, Ed Miliband's refusal to tackle the unsustainable growth in air travel is simply irresponsible. Department of Transport data shows that just 10% of the UK population takes half of all the available flights.

By failing to tax aviation properly, the rest of us are effectively subsidising the wealthy frequent flyers. What's more, many of the journeys currently undertaken by air could easily be done by other means. Last year 56% of flights at Heathrow were for domestic or short-haul destinations. It is not unreasonable to bring in fiscal measures to start encouraging those people to take the train rather than the plane.

Cllr Darren Johnson
Green, London Assembly


George Monbiot is right to point out the impossibility of relying on offsetting to meet 2050 climate targets, as well as the injustice of this approach. If the UK relies on buying carbon credits from developing countries, instead of investing in green technologies and energy efficiency, then the UK will continue to lock itself into high-carbon infrastructure, at great future economic expense.

Offsetting is no solution to climate change - it is merely swapping a carbon cut in a developed country for a cut in a developing country, when cuts are needed in both. The UK must show international leadership before the Copenhagen climate talks in December through commitment to meeting all its carbon cuts at home, without any recourse to offsetting.

Tom Picken
Friends of the Earth


Ed Miliband says his conversion to the cause of nuclear power came as a result of his "hard-headed environmentalism". But any hard-headed appraisal of nuclear's potential to deliver significant quantities of affordable low-carbon electricity should lead him to reject it. There are currently two new-build projects in the EU - in Finland construction of a new plant is three years behind schedule and significantly over-budget, while a similar story is unfolding at Flamanville in France.

Meanwhile a consortium of 12 of Europe's largest technology and energy companies this week signed an agreement launching the world's most ambitious solar energy project, with potential investment topping 400bn euros. Unfortunately for UK plc, the leading firms behind the initiative are German. Just like in the 80s, Whitehall's obsession with nuclear risks us missing out on the coming renewables bonanza and taking the steps that would slash our carbon emissions.

John Sauven
Executive director, Greenpeace UK


Ed Miliband's "green hope" is based on the government cutting UK emissions by 80% by 2050, inside a global total of cutting emissions by 50% by that year. Government claims this is sufficient to avoid rising above a 2C increase in temperature globally. Even Ban Ki-moon denounced this as under-achievement.

Modelling from the UK's own Hadley Centre, published in 2007, showed clearly that a cut in emissions of at least 80% by 2050 is needed globally to stay within that temperature limit. The House of Commons environmental audit committee is currently investigating this matter and uncovering levels of official denial of this that are the real cause for despair.

Aubrey Meyer
London


I have read that the luxury of cheap air travel is mostly taken up by the better-off, commuting for the weekend to their second homes in France and Tuscany. This would make pure nonsense of Miliband's position. And come to think of it, wouldn't the less-well-off majority place a higher priority on access to affordable housing for instance, rather than the wanton luxury of cheap air travel? I very much fear our climate change secretary has got it wrong - again.

Nick Wrigley
Boscastle, Cornwall


How fitting that Ed Miliband's pledge to protect air travel for the masses should appear on Bastille Day. But his plan to reduce carbon footprints in other sectors, so that the expansion of air travel can be allowed to double in the next 20 years, has more than a touch of Marie Antoinette about them. And we all know what happened to her.

Carol Barbone
Stop Stansted Expansion


UK DECISION TO PUSH BACK EMISSIONS REPORTING DEADLINE LEAVES AVIATION EU ETS IMPLEMENTATION IN CONFUSION

Greenair Online - 13 July 2009

The UK has blamed Brussels for its failure [to] transpose the EU directive on the aviation ETS into national legislation in time to comply with the August 31 deadline by which operators were required to submit emissions monitoring and benchmarking plans. A government statement said there first needed to be a "firm and agreed" list of operators to be regulated by each EU member state. As this list was not now expected to be published by the Commission until later this month, the UK government says it is legally unable to lay the first stage of regulations transposing the directive. Operators will now be required to submit their plans within 11 weeks after the regulations are laid before Parliament, which could move the deadline to late October. Other EU States have no plans, so far, to follow the UK's decision but few appear able to transpose the directive before the end of August.

The statement, issued by Defra, the environment ministry, and the Department for Transport said it was "vital that every aircraft operator covered by the EU ETS is aware of their obligations under the System." However, there appears to be different interpretations by EU states on whether it was necessary to transpose the directive into national law in order to comply with the original August 31 deadline and the significance of the European Commission's list of aircraft operators.

The Commission has already published an 'information note' on the legal status of the list. It concluded that "aircraft operators performing an aviation activity listed in Annex I of the Directive are covered by the EU ETS whether or not they are on the list of operators at the time of the activity".

A second question the note looked at was whether the list determined which administering Member State is responsible for an aircraft operator. It said that Article 18a(3)(a) of the directive required the Commission "based on best available information, to publish a list of aircraft operators which performed an aviation activity on or after 1 January 2006 specifying the administering Member State for each operator...".

The list, says the note, ensures that each operator knows which Member State it will be regulated by and that Member States are clear which operators they need to regulate. "These aims can only be achieved by the single preparation of a single list at Community level. Legally, the consequence of this is that Member States and operators can rely on the determination of the administering Member State made in the list," it concludes.

Sebastian Gallehr of German consultancy Gallehr+Partner said that although it could be argued that the Commission had already published its list of operators, this list was not legally binding. "It is each operator's own responsibility to identify whether it is affected by the EU ETS or not," he warned.

The UK says it is currently finalizing the first stage regulations transposing the directive and aims to publish them very shortly, "for information only", which is intended to provide operators early sight of their obligations. Shortly after the Commission publishes its list of aircraft operators, which could still be further delayed until early August, the first-stage regulations will be laid before the UK Parliament before coming into force 21 days thereafter. Aircraft operators will then have up to eight weeks to submit emissions monitoring plans to the UK regulator, the Environment Agency.

A UK consultation on draft second-stage regulations is due to start soon, which will replace the first stage regulations and will complete the UK's transposition of the aviation EU ETS directive.

Other EU states have yet to indicate whether they will follow the UK's decision to postpone the crucial August 31 deadline in which aircraft operators are mandated to submit emissions monitoring plans and also submit benchmarking plans that entitle operators to claim free allowances up to 2020. According to the initial list drawn up by the European Commission and based on Eurocontrol data, the UK will be responsible for administering over a quarter of the 2,700-plus operators identified. It would appear unlikely the Commission could support a two-speed process whereby the Member State with the largest number of operators to administer could have a later closing date than other States.

The postponement could also have a serious knock-on effect as monitoring plans have to be processed and approved or rejected by the regulators by December 31, with the start of the first monitoring period for annual emissions and benchmark data following the next day on January 1, 2010. The UK Environment Agency could be left with little more than two months to carry out the processing of over 700 emissions monitoring and benchmarking plans. In its statement, the UK government says it "remains committed to including aviation in the EU ETS from 2012."

Julien Dufour, CEO of French consultancy SustainAvia, understands the French aviation ETS administrator will not postpone the August 31 deadline because of the high number of monitoring plans that require processing by a limited number of staff before the end of the year.

He said Italy is even further behind on implementing the directive and a decision has yet to be taken on who will approve the monitoring plans, and the aircraft operators they are responsible for have yet to be contacted.

Philippe Langumier, responsible for the aviation ETS within the French civil aviation authority the DGCA, told GreenAir Online that of the 500 operators on its list, only half had replied to a first letter sent out in April, although a second sent earlier this month had elicited some further response. He said the problems are mainly with non-commercial overseas operators. However, he sees the deadline as the main challenge.

"The final version of the templates for the monitoring plans was only out in June. We organized a workshop in mid-June on the filing of the plans but this leaves very little time for operators to understand the regulation, organize themselves and comply with the deadline." The workshop was attended by around 70 delegates from about 30 operators.

Dufour said the French DGCA had modified the monitoring plan templates slightly and were currently under translation into French by the EC. The French CAA will accept monitoring plans submitted in French or in English. He said the DGCA expects that most of the small emitters will not submit a tonne-kilometre plan, which will limit the workload created by the need to check and approve the monitoring plans.

The UK proposes fines of up to £50,000 ($80,000) for operators who do not submit emissions monitoring plans by the deadline. However, France has no such plans. "Contrary to the UK, we have no policy to fine late submission of emissions monitoring plans this year because we have no possibility of passing the necessary regulation in time," said Langumier. "We intend to introduce such a sanction regime for next year." He does not foresee the legislation being passed until later this year.

Sebastian Gallehr said the German authority, the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) appeared well-prepared for the aviation EU ETS and had recently set up a website - in English as well as German since nearly half the 288 operators it will handle are from outside Germany - explaining the guidelines and requirements. However, Gallehr pointed out that all communications from the DEHSt are in German, which would possibly disadvantage overseas operators.

"A second key issue is one of general legal uncertainty," he said. "Many topics and processes are not defined in the EU directive and the monitoring guidelines, which means that the DEHSt - which is part of the environment ministry and is not experienced in aviation matters - is drafting preliminary procedures and guidance. The Germans, typically, are not comfortable with this, whereas the French CA is much more pragmatic." Gallehr was not aware of the German government proposing financial penalties on operators not complying with the emissions monitoring plan submission date but details of the regulations transposing the directive had not yet been released and may not be passed until later in the year.

Understandably, airline representative organizations are far from happy with the situation. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said three-quarters - 169 out of 230 - of its member airlines were caught by the EU ETS and its Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) requirements.

"All governments should have contacted airlines that they are administering by now but the EC still hasn't produced its final list of which airlines are administered by which Member State," an IATA spokesman told GreenAir. "We are now expecting the list by the end of July. Some non-EU airlines are therefore in limbo as they do not know which government is administering them."

"According to the EC legislation, airlines must submit their monitoring plans by August 31. This is going to be very difficult for some airlines as the instructions about what to do have been late, some airlines still don't know their administering Member State and the deadline is very tight. Airlines have worked hard to achieve the August target but unfortunately some will undoubtedly miss the deadline so we are asking governments to be flexible and give a bit of leeway as airlines struggle to comply."

"Different governments are now taking different approaches. IATA has held workshops on MRV to assist its members with complying and has been providing advice over the past months. But it is a complete mess."

Simon McNamara from the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) said: "The August 31 deadline was always going to be very tight. There remain many questions on interpretation of the MRV guidelines in certain areas that are yet to be resolved. There is also the ongoing problem of the list of administering authorities that is not yet been finalized."

Andrew Pozniak, CEO of consultancy Green Aviation International (GAI), which held the Airline ETS Masterclass event early last month, said airlines had been given only six months to prepare since the February list of operators had been published by the Commission. "By any normal standards this is simply too short be able to fully assess and document new procedures and systems to comply with the regulations," he said. "The EU is waving the big stick of offering 85% free allowances to the industry but only to those airlines that submit their plans by August 31."

"It would have been far better if aviation were given an extra year to prepare, and to join the ETS at the start of the ETS third trading period in 2013 rather than 2012. Alternatively, the EU could easily have decided to take Eurocontrol data on flight movements and made some assumptions based on actual airline data concerning fuel burn for the various aircraft types.

"With that, Eurocontrol could have produced ETS information for the airlines very simply and cheaply - after all, Eurocontrol already does this for air navigation charges. Even if it was not the final solution at least it would been a good first step, workable and quickly implementable without troubling the airlines to this extent."

The European Commission is due to announce in early August the industry's emission cap for the aviation EU ETS, which will be based on the average emissions of the years 2004-2006. It is understood that around 10 million flights per year during the period have been analysed to calculate the cap.

ICF International has estimated that the UK alone will earn around £200 million ($280m) from the auctioning of allowances to the aviation sector in 2012, rising to over £400 million ($560m) per year by 2020.


MPS SEE MERIT IN THIRD HEATHROW RUNWAY

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 10 July 2009

A third runway at Heathrow should be used to cut the "excessive" stacking of aircraft over the airport, according to a report published by MPs today.

The transport select committee says a third runway would offer "a real opportunity to add resilience into the air traffic management system" and to help reduce the environmental impact of jets queuing in the skies waiting for a slot to land.

Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and chairman of the committee, believes that if a third runway were to be built the government should set targets to cut stacking and the Civil Aviation Authority should be given responsibility to monitor delivery of the reforms. The report says aircraft were "routinely" kept waiting above Heathrow, because the airport was operating at 99 per cent of its capacity from the existing two runways.

The issue of a third runway at Heathrow remains highly controversial. The project was approved earlier this year by the government, which called for BAA, the operator of Heathrow, to apply for planning permission to build both a third runway and a sixth terminal.

The Conservative party firmly opposes a third runway and has vowed to block the project if it were to win the next election, which is due to be held within the next 10 months. Members of the select committee themselves are split over the merits of a third runway at Heathrow.

The report on the use of UK airspace also expresses concerns about increasing aviation activity over sensitive areas such as national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

MPs suggest the government should examine the case for adopting maximum limits on noise levels and on numbers of aircraft permitted to fly over such areas. The report supports moves by the European Union to rationalise European airspace and to reduce the number of national air traffic management providers, but it expresses concerns that the growing role to be played by the European Aviation Safety Agency rather than by national agencies such as the CAA "may tend to lower safety standards".


HIGH PRAISE FOR AIRPORT'S NOISE TEAM

BAA Press Release - 1 July 2009

Stansted's commitment to its community and high levels of customer service has been praised following an audit of the airport's Flight Evaluation Unit (FEU) by Uttlesford District Council's environmental team.

Following an independent review into how the airport investigates and responds to noise concerns, the council this week published its findings and recognised Stansted's FEU to be "well run and properly responsive to complaints".

Commenting on the report's positive findings, Graeme Wade, BAA Stansted's noise communications manager, said: "I'm delighted with the outcome of the audit, and thank Uttlesford District Council for its thoroughness in carrying out the study. I'd also like to thank those in the community who help and advise us, particularly members of the Noise and Track Keeping Working Group, the independent monitoring body that works alongside our experts and technical professionals, and has among its membership a number of representatives drawn from the local community."

"We understand aircraft noise can be a real concern for people and we'll continue to work hard to minimise the effects as far as we possibly can. We're certainly not complacent and there's always more that we can do. Just recently, we launched one of the most comprehensive public consultations on aircraft noise ever carried out by Stansted Airport. We want to know what people think of our draft Noise Action plan and I would encourage as many people as possible to visit our dedicated noise website and fill out a questionnaire."

The audit, which took place on April 24, also praised the airport's interactive noise website finding it "comprehensive and easy to use, in particular the internet based WebTrak system has provided a readily accessible way in which the local community can investigate their concerns".

Stansted Airport's FEU handles enquiries and complaints about aircraft noise - looking at the routes aircraft fly, their heights and the amount of noise they generate at fixed points around the airport. The department provides a vast array of information to the community and its team of experts are on hand to explain why areas are overflown, and what the airport is doing to help reduce disturbance.

OUR COMMENT: BAA is confusing the issues. Praise for the work of the Noise Evaluation Unit in monitoring the noise situation and the workings of the airport Noise Action Plan does not mean that noise annoyance has been significantly reduced. Unnecessary noise can be eliminated but all aircraft are still very noisy and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Local residents are still subjected to considerable levels of noise. Expansion means more flights and more noise and BAA should recognize that Noise Action Plans are only marginal in the benefits they bring. In addition, the following recommendations were made to improve the work of the FEU.

Summary of Recommendations by the Audit Team:

A common filing system should be used for recording details of complaints and subsequent follow up investigations and responses regardless of the method used by the complainant to contact the FEU.

The criteria used for classifying complaints as multiples should be made public and individuals whose complaints are treated in this way should be advised of their status.

There should be procedures for recording and investigating complaints associated with helicopters and an investigation into whether their flight tracks can be displayed in the Webtrak system.

The use of differing noise abatement departure procedures and their consequential effects on the local community should be included in a future Noise and Environment Seminar.

The Property Pack should also be distributed to local Solicitors who may advise clients on property transactions in the surrounding area.

A summary of the aircraft and airport complaints and associated information received by the FEU should be made publicly available.

Pat Dale


NEW REPORTS SAY NOISE IS HARMING OUR HEALTH

Press Release - Environmental Protection UK - 6 July 2009

Environmental Protection UK support call for expert group on noise and health

Two new reports published today (6 July 2009) assessing our state of knowledge on noise and health make it clear that many people are affected, some seriously, by exposure to environmental (mainly traffic) noise. Environmental Protection UK welcome this long awaited publication from an ad hoc expert group co-ordinated by the Health Protection Agency. With Defra preparing to consult the public on noise action plans for England, sound information on the effects of noise is needed now.

To reinforce the need, Defra commissioned research, also published today, finds clear links between noise exposure and annoyance; cardiovascular effects; sleep disturbance; learning and hearing impairment.

While both reports acknowledge that current noise levels can affect our health, they also establish that more knowledge is needed on noise impacts to contribute to well informed decision making, as plans are drawn up to comply with the European requirement to reduce, manage or prevent harmful noise exposure.

"Environmental Protection UK have long advocated the need for an expert advisory body on noise. We are in full support of the recommendation of the ad hoc expert group, that a programme of research into the effects of environmental noise in the UK be established" said Philip Mulligan, Chief Executive.

"With 10% of the UK population exposed to daytime noise above 65dB, an Expert Advisory Committee on Environmental Noise and Health is urgently needed if we are to have an informed noise action planning process. Air Quality Management is underpinned by advice from the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution - it is about time the impacts of noise on health are seriously addressed."


YOU CAN'T BEAT NATURE!
RUNWAY RENAME AS NORTH POLE MOVES

BBC News - 6 July 2009

Signage changes were made at night

Stansted Airport in Essex has renamed its 3,000m (9,750ft) runway because the position of the Earth's magnetic North Pole has moved.

The runway was known by pilots and air traffic controllers as 23/05 because of its location and compass heading. The magnetic North Pole drifts naturally, and every 50 years its position alters significantly. Managers at Stansted decided they must call the runway 22/04 to reflect the new position and bearing.

Trevor Waldock, head of airside operations, said: "We've had to make this change due to the Magnetic North Pole slowly drifting on the Earth's surface but our runway remains in a fixed position. It'll roughly be another 56 years before we have to consider changing it again."

"Redesignating the runway at a busy international airport, such as Stansted, presents a number of complex challenges, so we've had a programme of works specially organised to minimise any disruption to normal operations."

The project, which took place at night, was completed on 5 July and included the replacement of all airfield signage and the repainting of the huge numbers at each end of the runway.

The magnetic North Pole will continue to drift until it eventually switches with the magnetic South Pole. The Earth last went through this an estimated 780,000 years ago. With time, due to the Magnetic North Pole moving south, the Northern Lights will be more regularly visible in the UK.


ENGLAND'S PORK BARREL POLITICS IS PAYING
FOR AIRLINES TO BURN THE PLANET

George Monbiot - The Guardian - 6 July 2009

Demand for new routes and airports comes not from passengers but unelected, unaccountable development agencies

Here's an odd thing. Air travel to and from the United Kingdom has plummeted. Several small airlines have gone bust; British Airways has deployed its landing gear. In some respects, according to the industry, this descent could be permanent. Yet the government is still planning to double the capacity of our airports by 2030.

Between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, the number of people using airports in the UK fell by 6.4 million, or 13%. Convinced that its estimates for the growth of demand were wrong, the airport operator BAA has delayed its plans for a second runway at Stansted. British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair are demanding that BAA reduce the £900m it wanted to spend on upgrading Gatwick, because the business case is now "unproven".

After we had finished filming our interview, broadcast by the Guardian in January, the head of easyJet, Andy Harrison, told me that there was no point in expanding airports outside the south-east because the demand wouldn't materialise. According to the chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, "Business habits are changing and corporate travel budgets have been slashed. Video conferencing is now a stronger competitor." Companies have finally twigged that hoisting 80kg of human 10,000 metres into the air whenever you want to have a conversation is a waste of time and money.

Yet the government's projections have scarcely changed. In December 2006, before the industry's crisis began, it predicted demand would double by 2030, to 465 million passengers a year. Its latest forecast, in January 2009, downgrades this estimate by 2%, to 455 million. Its graph shows a modest decline in the rate of growth for a couple of years, after which the steep rise resumes.

Even when this graph was published it was wrong: passenger numbers were already dropping rather than growing more slowly. Now it looks ridiculous. Yet the government refuses to change course. Just as the chancellor issues ever more fantastical economic forecasts, so the Department for Transport sticks to its flight path over the cuckoo's nest. It still insists that airports produce master plans to accommodate growth that the industry regards as pure fantasy. This is a government in denial.

Now here's an even odder thing. For years campaigners have said that the government should intervene to discourage the growth in flying. More flights means more misery for the people living underneath. It also means more global warming. In 2007, before the airline crisis began, air transport turnover (including freight) in the UK was ?20bn. Aviation accounted for 0.78% of total business turnover, a smaller proportion than the machinery rental sector. Yet it produced 13% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. The case for impeding further growth seemed strong.

Ministers responded that you can't buck the market: it would be wrong for government to interfere. So here's the kicker. I've just received the last response to the information requests my researcher, Ketty Dean, has been making about airport policy. Our research shows that during the last 10 years government agencies have spent £80m on helping private enterprise to increase the number of flights.

Airports in the UK are - or are supposed to be - commercial operations. Airport companies build them, then recoup their money by leasing space and landing rights to carriers and renting out pitches for shops. Until we had completed this research, government policy looked wrong but consistent: the free market was being allowed to let rip, regardless of the environmental consequences. Now we know that the government has intervened to accelerate this growth.

Of the £80m, £17m has been spent by bodies controlled by the national assemblies. Scottish Enterprise has spent £8m on developing air routes, and on subsidies and grants to British Airways, Ryanair, Loganair and BAA. Invest Northern Ireland has spent £3m on developing new routes. The Welsh assembly has paid £6m to build and run a terminal, subsidise the Scottish firm Highland Airways, give the airlines discounts for airport charges, and market flights from Cardiff to Paris and Barcelona.

These payments are unwarranted, outrageous, disgraceful. The devolved governments are spending their sparse discretionary funds on wrecking the environment and subsidising the shopping trips, holidays and second homes of the middle classes (who take the majority of flights). But at least in the three smaller nations, we can vote out the idiots who approved these grants. Our national agencies, though run by corporate bureaucrats, are directly accountable to the national parliaments. The English have no such luck.

The remaining £63m has been spent by the English regional development agencies (RDAs). All nine of them have been wasting public money on supporting the aviation industry. The full spreadsheet is posted on the Guardian's website, but here are a few highlights. One, North East, has spent £11m on new routes and land to help airports expand. The North West RDA has coughed up £12m for baggage handling, aircraft parking, and marketing. Yorkshire Forward has spent £16m, mostly on refurbishing two hangars at Robin Hood airport. The South West RDA has spent £19m on extending the airport terminals at Bristol and Bournemouth, aircraft parking at Exeter, and airport works at Plymouth and Newquay. In all cases it has encouraged people to fly when they might otherwise have taken the train.

What can you do about it? Next to nothing. With the exception of the London Development Agency, the RDAs are subject to no direct democratic scrutiny. They are nominally accountable to unelected regional chambers. From next year these will be replaced by local authority leaders' boards. In principle this is a form of photocopy democracy: an elected body appoints a leader, who joins a committee to oversee another committee. Democracy becomes fainter and greyer with every transfer of power. But it's not even this good. The government has decided the RDAs and the leaders' boards will have joint responsibility for producing regional strategies and monitoring their delivery, which means the development agencies set their own terms of reference and assess their own performance. There are nine regional ministers in central government, but they are not charged with holding the development agencies to account. The RDAs (except London's) are directly answerable to no one.

All nine are chaired by corporate executives, three of whom were previously senior officials at the Confederation of British Industry. Whatever their official purpose, the RDAs have turned into pork distribution offices, handing out lavish grants to undeserving causes.

This is what happens when the government ducks the issue of English democracy. The only nation in the UK without a parliament, England is run by a new class of plenipotentiary: unelected, unaccountable, known to big business, not the electorate. You've just seen the result, but how do you mobilise against it?


BAA COMPETITION HEARING SET FOR OCTOBER 19

Reuters - 2 July 2009

Four days set aside for hearing
Ryanair to intervene in support of commission

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - The Competition Appeal Tribunal has set October 19 as the hearing date for BAA to appeal a decision requiring it to sell three of its UK airports.

BAA, majority owned by Spain's Ferrovial is disputing the ruling on the grounds that it was affected by apparent bias, and that it did not take into account the tough economic conditions. BAA has claimed that one member of the Competition Commission panel was apparently not independent enough to participate in ruling on the break-up of BAA.

Four days have been set aside for the tribunal hearing, which will include representations from Ryanair in support of the Competition Commission, a spokesman for the commission said.

In December last year the commission ordered BAA to sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, in that order, within two years BAA is in the process of selling Gatwick.


THE LAST WORD - OR THE LAST PASSENGER?
RYANAIR TO MAKE PASSENGERS STAND

Ben Leach - Daily Telegraph - 7 July 2009

Ryanair is considering proposals to make some of its customers stand during flights

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, plans to make some passengers stand. The low-cost airline would charge passengers less on "bar stools" with seat belts around their waists.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive, has already held talks with US plane manufacturer Boeing about designing an aircraft with standing room. He is now seeking approval from the Irish Aviation Authority before ordering a new fleet of carriers, according to The Sun.

A Ryanair spokesman told the newspaper: "If they approve it, we'll be doing it."

Mr O'Leary is reported to have got the idea from the Chinese airline Spring, which has put forward similar plans. It estimates space could be made for up to 50 per cent more passengers and costs could be cut by 20 per cent.

It is not the first time Ryanair has come up with a controversial proposal for cutting costs. Earlier this year Mr O'Leary suggested passengers could be charged £1 to use the on-board lavatories.

In an interview on BBC television he said that the low-cost airline was looking at the possibility of installing a coin slot on the lavatory door so that "people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny." Mr O'Leary also considered introducing a "fat tax" for overweight passengers.


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