| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - October to December 2009
ACTION FOR 2010? ANOTHER QUANGO?
Darling: Meet Infrastructure UK
Ed Owen - The New Civil Engineer - 9 December 2009
Alistair Darling has pledged to invest in infrastructure decades into the future, by setting up Infrastructure UK to focus the government's planning to prioritise and fund infrastructure over the coming 50 years. As predicted by NCE, the Chancellor has set-up an overarching body to look at all aspects of infrastructure in the UK, with a particular focus on private sector investment.
Darling said he wanted to: "Build on the unprecedented investment in infrastructure over the last decade and ensure the UK is ready to face the challenges of the transition to a lowcarbon economy by creating Infrastructure UK, which will help facilitate private sector investment in infrastructure, and help ensure that publicly funded infrastructure is effectively prioritised and delivered."
Infrastructure UK will be chaired by ex Rio Tinto chairman Paul Skinner and James Stewart has been appointed as Chief Executive, who will move on secondment from Partnerships UK where he was chief executive..
One of the body's tasks will be to identify new revenue streams for major infrastructure, and manage the government's money earmarked for the 2020 European Fund for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure. It will also guide the Treasury in its infrastructure investment.
Finally, the body will actively support the development and construction of major infrastructure, reporting to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Treasury on pushing the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Infrastructure UK will amalgamate several independent bodies - The Infrastructure Finance Unit, the Treasury's PPP policy team, and parts of Partnerships UK.
Newly appointed chair Paul Skinner said: "Effective infrastructure planning and delivery will be an important determinant of the future economic growth, particularly given the need to develop a low carbon trajectory for the UK economy."
"Substantial investment in infrastructure will be required to achieve this and Infrastructure UK will aim to achieve global best practice in the identification, prioritisation, development, funding and operation of major infrastructure programmes. These will support growth and inward investment," he said.
Infrastructure UK will also advise the Treasury and DECC on a low-carbon electricity market, and how to deliver it cost-effectively. £90M will go towards the 2020 European Fund for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure, which will be jointly administered by Infrastructure UK and the European Investment Bank.
This fund is designed to act as a model for introducing new private sector money into sectors such as wind, biomass, gas storage, transmission and CCS. The Fund plans to attract up to £1.36 billion of equity from a range of investors and has up to £4.5bn of associated debt co-financing waiting to be deployed.
Economic secretary to the Treasury, Ian Pearson said: "We have seen significant investment in infrastructure over the last decade. However the challenge now is to raise the bar and embrace a low carbon future. To meet this challenge, we require increased private sector investment and improved value for money. Infrastructure UK will act as a focal point for investors, developing the UK?s first strategy for national infrastructure, attracting new sources of private sector investment and advising Government on a more efficient prioritisation of public spending."
ICE Director General Tom Foulkes said: "Well-planned and strategically prioritised infrastructure investment in the UK in the coming years will be crucial for our economic recovery, and in achieving a low carbon economy. However Infrastructure UK's immediate focus must be on how vital infrastructure projects, which will underpin any recovery, can be funded in the long-term."
"I-UK will urgently need to find new and innovative ways to fund much-needed infrastructure as well as address ongoing barriers to private investment. A National Infrastructure Investment Bank, which has gained widespread political and academic support, could offer both a predictable source of funding and help infrastructure projects to attract private finance."
"It is important also that the focus is not only on building new infrastructure - there is little point in investing in the very best, most up to date infrastructure if the entire, inter-dependent network is not adequately protected from cascading system failure. Infrastructure UK will need to coordinate the various regulatory bodies and agencies responsible for protecting infrastructure to ensure a strategic joined up approach. We have seen the domino effect vulnerable infrastructure networks can have recently in Cumbria."
EUROPEANS' ATTITUDES TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE
European Commission Report November 2009 - Field work in August to September 2009
Respondents answered a whole series of questions on what they had done or were prepared to do to reduce their carbon emissions. Detailed results from the question as to whether they tried to avoid short haul air trips are very relevant to the problems of reducing aviation emissions.
Only 11% said they avoid taking short haul flights were possible. This may be
because many of the respondents don't ever take short haul flights, so there is nothing
to reduce, or it may be that respondents are taking as many short haul flights as
before. It may also be a combination of the two.
Just over one third (35%) of respondents living in Luxembourg and Sweden say they
avoid taking short haul flights, whilst Finns and Germans also try to avoid short
distance air travel
Those who consider climate change to be a serious problem are more likely
to be taking most of the simpler actions (recycling, saving energy and water
etc). However, they are not more likely to have to have purchased a greener
car, to be reducing their car use, or to avoid short-haul flights. Nor are they
more likely to have switched to a greener energy supplier, or to have installed
renewable energy generation equipment at home.
OUR COMMENT: Even the convinced seem to be avoiding action that actually might change their present life style!
BAA IS GIVEN LAST CHANCE TO FIGHT BACK
Michael Peel & Hannah Kuchler - Financial Times - 22 December 2009
The legal sucker punch landed by BAA on the antitrust authorities yesterday may help the company stall the forced sale of some of Britain's best-known airports - and leave the taxpayer with a multi-million-pound bill to boot.
The Competition Commission is facing the embarrassing prospect of being ordered to redo its high-profile two-year investigation of BAA's near-monopoly, after a stinging tribunal judgment found the probe displayed "apparent bias".
Lawyers said the ruling was a dramatic late reversal for the watchdog in a case that has distilled anger about the state of Heathrow and other British airports and has become the biggest test of the country's toughened anti-monopoly rules. One solicitor said: "This could be one where you have to redo the entire inquiry. So egg on face all round."
The parties to the increasingly fractious Competition Commission investigation were last night scrambling to work out the full implications of a tribunal judgment that gives BAA a victory without saying exactly what the spoils will be. The tribunal will decide in the new year what the effect should be on the watchdog's order for BAA to sell three airports, which led the company to sell Gatwick for £1.5bn.
The share price of BAA's owner, Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, barely moved yesterday, reflecting uncertainty over whether the judgment would halt the sale process or merely delay it to a time when economic conditions are more to the company's liking.
BAA's win - based on links between one of the investigation panel members and a local authority pension fund that bid unsuccessfully for Gatwick - sparked an angry reaction from airlines and passenger groups who say more competition is needed to improve British airports.
The Competition Commission had paved the way for the biggest shake-up in the sector since BAA was privatised more than 20 years ago, proposing measures including increased investment in Heathrow's much-criticised services. The commission, which said it was disappointed by the ruling and was looking for grounds to appeal, will be frustrated and embarrassed by both the manner of its defeat and criticism of its handling of the case.
The ruling centred on the position of Peter Moizer, an investigator and long-standing strategic adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which formed part of a consortium bidding for Gatwick. The tribunal was unimpressed with Prof Moizer's argument that he did not see Manchester Airport's interest in bidding for a BAA airport as "in any way bearing" on his independence or appearance of independence.
The tribunal said fair-minded observers would be "puzzled, as frankly we are, as to how that view could be maintained" in the light of the connections. Prof Moizer declined to comment.
The Competition Commission said it could not rule out that a fresh inquiry would be ordered. The watchdog declined to say how much it had spent on the BAA probe, although officials indicated investigations of this kind normally cost about £3m.
BAA declined to comment in detail yesterday, unsurprisingly given the decision it must make about how to exploit the judgment. While previous apparent bias cases suggest the company would have a good chance of having the investigation annulled, it may not relish the prospect of becoming embroiled in another two-year probe.
The one certainty is that BAA - vilified over its stewardship of Heathrow and faced with the toughest remedies the competition watchdog has ever imposed - now has an unexpected last chance to fight back.
BREAK-UP TURMOIL AS BAA WINS BIAS RULING
Hannah Kuchler - Financial Times - 21 December 2009
BAA has won its appeal against the Competition Commission but it is not yet clear whether the judgment means the company will have to sell airports in London and Scotland.
In March, the airport operator was ordered to sell three of its seven UK airports: Gatwick, Stansted and one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh. But BAA, owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, accused the Competition Commission of an "intolerable conflict of interest" because one member of the panel had links to a potential buyer. The company also argued that a decline in passenger numbers should have been considered in the decision.
Its lawyer, Nicholas Green QC, told the appeal tribunal that there was a "powerful connection" between Manchester Airports Group, one potential Gatwick buyer and Peter Moizer, a member of the inquiry. But Mr Green qualified this, saying it was a matter of "apparent bias" not "actual bias".
Prof Moizer has been a long-standing strategic adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which joined a consortium bidding for Gatwick that included MAG and Borealis, the Canadian infrastructure fund. He resigned just before the commission's final report in March when it became clear the pension fund was involved in the Gatwick bid.
The tribunal unanimously concluded on Monday that there was "a real possibility of bias" because of the participation of Prof Moizer. But they threw out the suggestion that the Commission had failed to take account of relevant considerations when deciding on the timescale for the divestments.
BAA said it would now hold discussions with the Competition Commission, "to determine the appropriate response to this judgment". The company has already sold Gatwick for £1.5bn to the owners of London City airport in October. The Competition Commission said: "We're studying the judgment and its implications carefully."
Opponents of BAA's position of dominance over UK airports expressed disappointment. Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, said it was bad news for passengers: "They are the ones who suffer when one company has a stranglehold over the UK's airports. It is not right for one company to run more than one airport in London and both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports."
Bob Atkinson, of travelsupermarket.com, said: "Regardless of the reasons behind today's announcement, it remains a fact that BAA has a stranglehold on Scottish aviation, as well as a dominant position in south-east England. It's not great news for passengers, especially from a customer service point of view."
Commission on back foot after third loss
The competition watchdog's loss on appeal in the BAA case is the third high-profile reversal of a year that has raised questions about its ability to take on the biggest companies, writes Michael Peel. The Competition Commission's latest setback - after defeats by both Tesco and Barclays bank - has taken the sheen off an organisation touted as a Rolls-Royce among global antitrust authorities.
The watchdog will enter the new year needing morale-boosting victories to show it can use the tougher powers granted it under the 2002 Enterprise Act to make companies sell assets and change their behaviour.
Mark Friend, partner at law firm Allen & Overy, on Monday called the Competition Appeal Tribunal?s ruling against the commission in the BAA case - over the appearance of a conflict of interest in the investigation - a "devastating blow". "It has been a bad year for the commission, an annus horribilis really," he said.
The different character of the defeats - the Tesco and Barclays matters were over technical questions of economic analysis - makes it hard to draw conclusions about whether it is underperforming. A more charitable school of thought holds that the watchdog is still highly rated internationally and has scored some victories in appeals by multinationals, notably BSkyB.
The commission said that given the "very important and significant" decisions it was taking, it was inevitable some would be challenged successfully. "Clearly there are always lessons to be learnt in these situations - but it's worth noting that the overall finding in each case has been upheld," it said.
COMPETITION COMMISSION LOST ITS FOOTING OVER BAA
Andrew Hill - Financial Times - 22 December 2009
Airport operators learn not to crow about others' misfortune, but BAA must be tempted. Not only is Eurostar taking most of the traditional yuletide flak from inconvenienced passengers, Gatwick (which BAA has just sold) is having more of a problem than Heathrow with snow and the Competition Commission has fallen on its backside over its plan to force divestment of two more BAA airports.
It looks as though the Commission has been caught out on a technicality - but it's an important one. One of the six members of the panel looking at BAA's market position was a strategic adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which eventually joined a consortium bidding for Gatwick with Manchester Airports Group. Nobody alleges this potential conflict actually affected the outcome. But the appeal tribunal accepted - reluctantly, given the time and money spent on the inquiry - BAA's claim that it gave rise to an "apparent bias". The same panellist had been carefully quarantined from an earlier, less sensitive Competition Commission probe.
Campaigners to smash BAA's alleged dominance deserved better. The ruling could put two years of expensive work at risk. But they should not give up hope. The original conclusion still looks the right one: separate ownership of London's three principal airports would improve the quality of service and possibly improve capacity, too, with different proprietors competing to expand to meet demand. The probe could be re-run - at a cost (two-year inquiries come in at about £3m) but probably with a similar outcome.
For now, though, Ferrovial, BAA's Spanish owner, can enjoy its early Christmas present. It has won at the very least a breathing space to sell the other airports when the market improves. That may make up for the poor price it received for Gatwick, relative to what it paid in 2006.
The Spanish don't yet look smart. But the Competition Commission looks as prescient and as agile as a fat man who decides to brave a blizzard in ballet shoes.
HOPES FOR BINDING CLIMATE DEAL TURN TO MEXICO
ENDS Europe DAILY - 21 December 2009
December's climate summit was supposed to be the culmination of a
negotiation process that began in Bali two years ago, leading to a
binding agreement with emission reduction targets for rich nations.
It was in fact the beginning of another round of talks.
The "Copenhagen Accord" announced on Saturday after hours of
intensive negotiations angered green groups, who called it an "abject
failure" and "shameful". The document recognises the two degrees goal
but contains no targets to achieve it.
There are no specific emission reduction actions by developing
countries and no specific commitments on long term financing for
mitigation and adaptation efforts in countries most affected by
As well as being a non-binding agreement, the accord hammered out by
a small group of countries including the US and China was not even
adopted by the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC). Instead it has been 'noted', meaning countries have
acknowledged its existence but do not necessarily agree with it.
Those who had hoped for a meaningful agreement are now turning to
next year's UN climate summit in Mexico. "What we've got to do in
Mexico is to achieve all the things that we should have achieved here
in Copenhagen," said UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer.
Under the accord, developed countries commit to register their formal
emission reduction pledges for the year 2020 by the end of January
2020, and to provide "new and additional" money amounting to $30bn a
year over the three years 2010-12.
There is also a goal to mobilise $100bn a year by 2020, a figure
first proposed by British prime minister Gordon Brown in June, with
money coming from private and public sectors. One of the few big
concessions in Copenhagen came when the US agreed to this figure.
Transparency - making sure developing countries' emission cuts are properly monitored and verified, was a big bone of contention between the US and China. Chinese officials resisted attempts to guarantee that their future
CO2 reductions are accurate.
This issue epitomises the mistrust between rich and poor countries
during the negotiations. In the end the Chinese agreed that their
reductions funded by industrialised nations should be monitored and
verified, but not self-financed measures.
SIR RICHARD BRANSON WARNS GREEN TAXES
THREATEN TO KILL AVIATION
Any move to impose green taxes on aviation at the Copenhagen
climate change talks this week could kill the industry, according
to Sir Richard Branson
Rowena Mason in Copenhagen - Daily Telegraph - 16 December 2009
The owner of Virgin Atlantic flew to Copenhagen in support of a global deal to cut airline, shipping and other transport emissions, which make up 20pc of the world's total. He wants the proceeds from such a system to support the rainforests and help developing countries tackle the effects of climate change. But Sir Richard said he drew the line at a new global tax when the industry has suffered so much in the recession.
"The airline industry has suffered a 100pc increase in taxes by this Labour Government, which are not going to environmental causes, and the danger is that this would tax the industry out of existence," he said. "That's not the way forward."
If global leaders do agree to impose a levy on shipping and airline fuels, Sir Richard urged the conference to exempt planes that use a high proportion of biofuels. He said that if no emissions trading was introduced to help airlines move gradually towards greener fuels, the industry should act alone by imposing a voluntary system and tough targets.
Emissions trading will be introduced for planes flying to and from Europe in 2012, which could mean the worst-performing airlines will see up to 80pc lower profits than the best-performing airline as a result of the system. But there are no restrictions in other parts of the world.
The aviation industry has moved to pre-empt penalties on emissions that could be imposed at Copenhagen by offering to peak its emissions by 2020.
Paul Steele, director of aviation environment at the International Air Transport Association, said there was support for an emissions trading system if introduced globally, but not more taxes.
"A blunt tax on aviation will do nothing to reduce emissions but will increase the cost of trade and tourism in the least-developed countries, affecting local economies and livelihoods in those countries," Mr Steele said.
OUR COMMENT: Even Sir Richard wants an easy passage (at others' expense) for his aviation interests!
JOHANN HARI: IT'S THE PROTESTORS WHO
OFFER THE BEST HOPE FOR OUR PLANET
They've ensured the corporate lobbyists
punching holes in the deal are shamed
Jonathon Hari - The Independent - 16 December 2009
At first glance, the Copenhagen climate summit seems like a Salvador Dali dreamscape. I just saw Archbishop Desmond Tutu being followed by a swarm of Japanese students who were dressed as aliens and carrying signs saying "Take Me To Your Leader" and "Is Your Species Crazy?". Before that, a group of angry black-clad teenage protesters who were carrying spray cans started quoting statistics to me about how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere can safely absorb. (It's 350 parts per million they pointed out, before sucking their teeth.) Before that, I saw a couple in a pantomime cow costume being attacked by the police, who accused them of throwing stones with their hooves.
But the surrealism runs deeper and darker than this. Inside the Bella Centre, the rich world's leaders are defiantly ignoring their scientists and refusing to sign a deal that will prevent our climate from being dramatically destabilised. The scientific consensus shows the rich world needs to cut 40 per cent of our emissions of warming gases from 1990 levels by 2020 if we're going to have even a 50-50 chance of staying this side of the Point of No Return, when the Earth's natural processes start to break down and warming becomes unstoppable. Yet the scientists at Climate Analytics calculate our governments are offering a dismal 8-12 per cent cut ? and once you factor in all the loopholes and accounting tricks, it becomes a net increase of four per cent.
Privately, government negotiators admit there's no way the negotiations will end with the deal scientists say is necessary for our safety. Indeed, it looks possible that this conference won't deepen and broaden the Kyoto framework, but cripple it. Kyoto established a legally binding international framework to measure and reduce emissions. The cuts it required were too small, and the sanctions for breaking it were pitifully weak ? but it was a start.
Kyoto's current phase expires in 2012, but the treaty's authors believed its architecture would be retained and intensified after that. The developing countries assumed that's what they were here to do. But the US is proposing to simply ditch the Kyoto infrastructure - won over decades of long negotiations - and replace it with an even weaker voluntary deal. In their proposal, every country will announce cuts and stick to them out of the goodness of their hearts. No penalties, no enforcement.
RYANAIR PUTS BRAKES ON CHEAP AIR TRAVEL
Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, has lowered the budget carrier's growth trajectory after failing to agree on terms for 200 new Boeing aircraft
David Robertson - The Times - 19 December 2009
The era of cheap air travel is set to come to an end as Ryanair and easyJet, the budget airlines famous for their low-cost tickets, change strategy to maximise returns for shareholders. Both budget carriers have announced plans to rein back their rapid growth rates and the money saved in not buying new aircraft and opening new bases will go back to investors.
This may be good news for shareholders, but passengers will lose out as there will be less pressure on the airlines to offer promotions such as Ryanair's £1 fare deals. Ryanair, Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers and market value, announced yesterday that it would be changing strategy from 2013, when its current fleet acquisition programme comes to an end.
EasyJet announced a similar change in strategy earlier this year after a boardroom bust-up between Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the airline's founder, and the carrier's management.
Ryanair ends $15bn plane talks with Boeing
Ryanair's change of heart came as the budget carrier walked away from negotiations to buy up to 200 new aircraft from Boeing. This decision will have allowed rival airlines across Europe to breathe a sigh of relief as the Irish airline's double-digit growth rates will stall.
As Ryanair's fleet has expanded aggressively over the past decade, it has moved pugnaciously into new markets - much to the displeasure of Europe's existing flag carriers. Europe's older, less efficient airlines have struggled to compete with Ryanair's low fares and have lost passengers as a result. However, Ryanair has been unable to agree terms with Boeing to buy a new $6 billion (£3.7 billion) fleet of aircraft and will start returning money to shareholders instead.
The Irish-based carrier plans to take delivery of 112 new 737-800s over the next three years but the new order would have allowed Ryanair to continue adding passengers beyond 2013.
Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, said that surplus cash would be returned to investors. His statement resulted in the share price gaining 6.5 per cent in Dublin.
Mr O'Leary said last month that Ryanair's fares could start to rise rapidly once it was no longer funding large aircraft purchases. "We would be under far less pressure to fill capacity by cutting prices," he said.
Mr O'Leary will unveil a new strategy for the airline in the first quarter of next year. Ryanair and Boeing are understood to have reached an agreement on pricing for the aircraft - probably about $25 million to $30 million each. However, Boeing is thought to have changed the terms of delivery and this was unacceptable to Ryanair.
A spokesman for Boeing said it was disappointed not to have concluded the deal but that any order had to be on commercially acceptable terms for its shareholders.
Ryanair and easyJet, Europe's largest budget airlines, have enjoyed almost continuous double-digit growth rates since the mid-1990s. Ryanair is expected to carry 66 million passengers this year and easyJet 45 million.
Sir Stelios said yesterday: "I'm delighted that Michael O'Leary now accepts what I've been saying for over a year - the era of endless fast growth and ever larger aircraft fleet is near its end."
OUR COMMENT: Can some of us look forward to some quieter nights? Has the era of cheap air travel now ended? Perhaps O'Leary would like to invest in a rail service?
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION
Study: Airport Noise Increases Risk of Strokes
Tristana Moore in Berlin - Time.com - 15 December 2009
Living under a flight path can seriously damage your health. German researchers have discovered that people who are exposed to jet noise have a substantially increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. The findings are bound to provide further ammunition to anti-airport campaigners and make uncomfortable reading for world leaders at this week's climate summit in Copenhagen.
According to the unpublished study, commissioned by Germany's Federal Environment Agency, men who are exposed to jet noise have a 69% higher risk of being hospitalized for cardiovascular disease. Women living under flight paths fare even worse, logging a 93% higher rate of hospitalization with cardiovascular problems, compared with their counterparts in quiet residential areas. The study found that women who are exposed to jet noise (of about 60 decibels) during the day are 172% more likely to suffer a stroke.
The report, due to be published in January, is based on the analysis of data from public health insurers that were drawn from more than 1 million Germans ages 40 and over who live near Cologne-Bonn Airport in western Germany. "These figures are worrying. It's quite clear that living near an airport is very dangerous for your health," says Eberhard Greiser, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at Bremen University. "Jet noise is more dangerous than any other kind of road-traffic noise or rail noise because it is especially acute and sharp and it induces stress hormones."
People living close to Cologne-Bonn Airport also tended to suffer from psychological illnesses. "There was a higher incidence of depression among women who live near the airport," says Jens Ortscheid of the Federal Environment Agency. "This report should come as a warning signal to all governments and authorities that are planning to expand airports ? there are serious health effects which need to be considered." Ortscheid says the report is in line with previous studies on the health effects of jet noise.
In a separate study commissioned by the local Bonn authorities, Greiser discovered that women near Cologne-Bonn Airport had an increased risk of developing breast cancer and leukemia. His research found that women who are exposed to 60 decibels of jet noise at night are twice as likely to contract breast cancer. "It seems women are more sensitive to jet noise than men, but I would advise everyone to think twice about living near an airport because it's not just aircraft noise which can be deadly; aircraft emissions are also dangerous," says Greiser.
That's not what the proponents of schemes to expand airport capacity wish to hear. In the U.K., the government faces strong opposition to its plans to build a third runway and sixth terminal at the congested Heathrow Airport in London. In February, campaigners are set to mount a legal challenge against the scheme in London's high court, saying the consultation process was flawed and the plans could prevent Britain from meeting its commitments to lower carbon emissions.
German authorities face similar obstacles in their struggle to win consent to boost the capacity of airports in Berlin and Frankfurt. The expansion of Schönefeld Airport, in the southern outskirts of Berlin, has already drawn fire from environmental campaigners and residents who are demanding a ban on night flights. The new international airport - called Berlin Brandenburg - Willy Brandt, after the former German Chancellor - is due to be completed by October 2011 and will be the capital city's main hub, catering up to 27 million passengers. That means over two years, hospitals near the new airport can expect a rise of about 5,000 patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, including 1,350 men and women with a stroke, if Greiser's predictions are accurate.
Plans to expand Frankfurt's airport are also controversial. In August, a court in the state of Hesse gave a green light for the expansion of the airport but recommended imposing tougher restrictions on nighttime flights to protect residents from aircraft noise. The German airliner Lufthansa has launched legal action against the night-flight curbs, saying they threaten its freight business. But the local Green Party has renewed its calls for an outright ban on night flights, and the legal battle is set to drag on.
"The new airport at Schönefeld is crucial for the Berlin economy, as it'll provide up to 40,000 new jobs," Ralf Kunkel, a spokesman for Berlin Airports' Authority, tells TIME. "By closing all the inner-city airports in Berlin, we are relieving tens of thousands of Berliners from the perils of aircraft noise, and so there's a positive ecological balance," he says.
Greiser is convinced his report provides unequivocal evidence of the health risks associated with jet noise. "When it comes to expanding airports, governments and the courts all over the world will have to weigh the benefits of commercial interests against the danger to public health," he says. "How many additional diseases is society prepared to accept?"
CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT CALLS FOR
PASSENGER TAX ON FLIGHTS TO REDUCE CO2
Watchdog says air travel cannot continue to grow unchecked
if UK's emissions targets are to be met
Dan Milmo, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 8 December 2009
Heavy taxes on passengers and a ban on expansion at regional airports will be needed to curb Britain's insatiable appetite for air travel, a climate change report will say today .
But it will still be possible to build a third runway at Heathrow, add second runways at Stansted and Edinburgh and permit an extra 140 million journeys a year by 2050 without breaking the UK's commitment to cutting carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
However, that 60% increase in air travel over the next four decades will come at a cost of choking off expansion at other airports including Gatwick, Birmingham, Newcastle and Bristol.
The committee - set up under the Climate Change Act 2008 to independently advise the government on how to meet its legally binding targets - warns that the British flying boom, stoked by the emergence of Ryanair and easyJet, is unsustainable.
If the aviation industry continues to grow unchecked, passenger journeys would increase by 200% in the next 40 years, but that cannot be tolerated because carbon dioxide emitted by carriers in 2050 must not exceed 2005 levels.
"This is a very challenging target," said David Kennedy, the committee's chief executive. "Don't be deceived by the fact that demand can grow. It will have to grow by much less than if we didn't care about carbon dioxide."
Today's report says ministers must consider measures including: a carbon tax on passengers; limits on runway expansion; and restrictions on flights at existing airports. Passenger growth will have to be limited to 60% over the next four decades, compared with an increase of 130% since 1990, allowing the UK a maximum of around 370 million air travellers by 2050, from 230 million currently.
"Demand can increase, but only in a limited way," added Kennedy. The committee forecasts that unchecked airline growth would shatter emissions targets, increasing passenger numbers by 200% to 695 million per year.
Asked if fares will also have to increase in order to choke off demand, Kennedy said: "The price has to cut back some of the growth, so you do have to have rising prices."
However, the report delivers a blow to campaigners against Heathrow expansion by making the theoretical case for a third runway. According to government forecasts an expanded Heathrow could handle a further 68 million passengers a year by 2030 - more than double current demand of 67 million a year - and still fit easily within the committee's growth projections. "You can see how you can do the maths and have a third runway at Heathrow and be within the 60% limit," said Kennedy.
If projections published by the DfT this year are correct, Britain could reach the maximum permitted number of flights soon after 2030. According to DfT forecasts, adding new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Edinburgh will be the equivalent of an extra 131.2 million journeys per year by 2030. Not only would that leave no room for new runways at Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Bristol, but it would bar those airports from increasing passenger numbers beyond current levels.
Even with an anticipated carbon price of £200 per tonne passed on to fares, the creation of a high-speed rail network, and more use of video-conferencing to cut business travel, the committee warns that more action such as constraining airport use might be needed in order to stop the population from flying. The report singles out a "carbon tax" as one of the solutions, which would be levied on top of the £200 per tonne carbon price.
"The policy instruments which could achieve this restraint include a carbon tax on top of the forecast carbon price, limits on further airport expansion, and restrictions on the allocation of takeoff and landing slots even where airports have the theoretical capacity available," the report says.
The report calculates that the aviation industry can limit 2050 carbon dioxide emissions to 2005 levels - or 37.5m tonnes of CO2 a year - because aircraft manufacturers and airlines will improve the fuel efficiency of their fleets by 0.8% a year. Including limited use of biofuels, that will slash carbon dioxide emissions per passenger by 35%.
Under that scenario, which includes greater use of the A380 superjumbo and an increase in the amount of seats sold per flight, the number of flights in and out of the UK can increase from 2.2m a year to 3.4m.
Even then, aviation will account for a quarter of all UK emissions by 2050 because other industries will have made tougher emissions cuts.
Environmental campaigners said the government should now scrap expansion plans laid out in the 2003 aviation white paper. "Ministers have been influenced by misleading greenwash from the aviation industry for far too long - this report is a reality check which should put the nail in the coffin for government plans to allow a huge expansion in air travel," said Richard Dyer of Friends of the Earth.
The white paper had envisioned demand for flights growing to 465 million a year by 2030 - a number that is now inconceivable under the committee's projections. It said the government could rewrite its airport policy - and choose which airports expand at the expense of others - in a national policy statement that is now required under the 2008 Planning Act. The act creates an infrastructure planning commission that will refer to policy statements when it considers planning applications for infrastructure projects such as airports.
The report also marks a potential transformation in the lifestyle of millions of Britons who have benefited from a regional airport boom which gave cheap access to the beaches and cities of Europe from an airport a few miles down the road.
If the Committee on Climate Change's advice on capping growth in air travel is accepted by ministers, then the majority of the UK's remaining airports could find themselves at a standstill while the likes of Heathrow take much of the allowed growth. Under that scenario, prices will rise inexorably as demand for a weekend break to Nice far outstrips supply.
One of easyJet's most successful routes from Bristol International airport is to Alicante in Spain - 50,000 passengers last year at £100 per return ticket.
A spokesman for the airline admitted that fares at regional airports could be forced up if the likes of Bristol International, which handled 6 million people a year and is aiming for 10 million by 2020, are barred from growing. "If you follow the recommendations of the committee that might be the result."
It is likely that the report will widen the schism between budget carriers and regional airports on the one hand, and long-haul carriers such as British Airways and international hubs such as Heathrow on the other.
EasyJet argues that airports serving heavily polluting long-haul destinations should have the toughest curbs because their business plans are predicated on transfer flights, which involve passengers flying into the airport on a regional service. "Why shouldn't the government manage that growth in an environmentally responsible manner? Letting Heathrow grow means more transfer flights, which is more polluting because you have to take two flights instead of one," said the easyJet spokesman.
EasyJet's comments will make for awkward reading among fellow members of the Sustainable Aviation group, who include two of Heathrow's biggest carriers - British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Sustainable Aviation declined to be drawn into the approaching fight over which airports deserve to grow, saying that limiting emissions through technological improvements was the answer, not cutting people's right to travel.
Four ways to curb air travel, according to the committee on climate change
1 A carbon tax on flights, which could be imposed after airlines join the European Union emissions trading scheme in 2012. The scheme alone is likely to force up fares because airlines will have to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, but the committee says that is not enough.
2 Limiting runway growth to a select number of airports, possibly Heathrow, Stansted and Edinburgh.
3 Restrictions on take-off and landing slots at airports.
4 Setting out a new growth strategy for UK airports in a national policy statement.
GREEN LOBBY INSISTS CARBON FIGURES
DON'T ALLOW HEATHROW EXPANSION
Philip Pank, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 8 December 2009
The green lobby had long assumed that today's aviation report from the Committee on Climate Change would finally slay the demon of a third Heathrow runway.
Campaigners believed it would be impossible for government to proceed with a project that flatly contradicted the findings of its key advisers. Yet while opponents of the third runway will argue that the report bolsters their position, the data allows Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, to press ahead with expansion and claim it to be environmentally sound.
"We are saying there is a bigger cake in terms of how many people can fly," said David Kennedy, the committee's chief executive. "It is a political judgment as to how that cake is divided up."
When the Government announced in January a £9 billion plan to build a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow by 2020, it commissioned the Committee on Climate Change to advise on the impact of aviation growth on carbon emissions. The committee found that if the national carbon target is to be met passenger numbers should grow by no more than 60 per cent over the next 40 years.
In 2050, if a third runway has been built at Heathrow and is operating at full capacity, the airport will account for 20 per cent of total flights - which is consistent with meeting the Government's carbon target, the committee says. In 2005 Heathrow accounted for 22 per cent of total flights.
Lord Adonis said that the committee's findings would be taken into account when a National Policy Statement on airports is published in 2011.
According to Greenpeace and the Conservatives, the Government's figures do not add up. The report assumes that by 2050, high-speed rail will reduce demand for air travel by 8 per cent; that aircraft will become 0.8 per cent more efficient every year; and that video-conferencing will cut business travel by almost a third.
Greenpeace insists that ministers have based the expansion plan on an expected 200 per cent increase in air passenger demand - a figure that the committee has rejected as incompatible with the carbon target.
"The Government's aviation policy, the basis for their Heathrow decision, has been conclusively rejected by the Government's own advisers as incompatible with their climate targets," said John Sauven, chief of Greenpeace UK. "The Aviation White Paper and the poor decisions it led to must be ripped up in Cabinet, or ripped up in court. We urge the former, but are fully prepared to see Heathrow's third runway in the dock."
Mr Kennedy said that it was possible to "reconcile" the Government's carbon target with its 2003 White Paper. One option proposed by ministers is to expand Heathrow, Stansted and Edinburgh, but no other airports.
A source at BAA, which owns Heathrow, Stansted, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said that its priority was to expand at Heathrow. "The debate now becomes more about where the new capacity is put and how it is used and we will argue that the strategic priority for the UK is to develop the long-haul network, which is only sustainable at Heathrow," the source said.
That ambition faces its first legal test in February, when campaigners will lead a High Court challenge against Heathrow expansion. They will argue that the consultation process has been flawed and that the case for a third runway is irrational since the Government acknowledges that climate change is a problem.
Richard Dyer, of Friends of the Earth, said: "The Government should abandon plans to expand UK airports and develop an aviation policy that doesn't wreck the planet."
While airlines - which have promised to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 - put their faith in biofuels, the Climate Change Committee says that these fuels are likely to have only a limited impact on emissions. "Concerns about land availability and sustainability mean that it is not prudent to assume that biofuels in 2050 could account for more than 10 per cent of global aviation fuel," its report says. "It is very unclear whether sufficient land and water will be available for growth of biofuel feedstocks given the need to grow food for a global population projected to increase from the current 6.7 billion to 9.1 billion in 2050."
The committee says that a global action plan is needed to tackle the impact of aviation and that a global cap on CO2 emissions should be set.
While the focus has until now been on carbon emissions, there is still uncertainty over the impact of aviation on global warming. The committee says that as scientific understanding of the effects of nitrous oxide emissions and vapour trails grows, restrictions placed on aviation may yet have to be tightened.
OUR COMMENT: The last paragraph shoots the messenger in the foot. How could the Climate Change Committee have ignored such a powerful greenhouse gas as nitrogen oxides, and the effect of vapour trails?
STAGNATION IN AIRCRAFT EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR COMPREHENSIVE CARBON DIOXIDE STANDARDS
Daniel Rutherford, Researcher Matt Crenson, Communications Director - International Council on Clean Transportation - 23 November 2009
A new analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation shows that advancements in the efficiency of commercial aircraft have stagnated in the last two decades, and without an effective carbon dioxide emission standard fuel prices alone are unlikely to spur large improvements.
A UN body with the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from commercial aircraft recently took the position that a carbon dioxide standard apply to aircraft from newly introduced lines, but not those belonging to types currently in production. The new ICCT study suggests a carbon dioxide standard that also covers planes coming off existing production lines is likely needed to spur efficiency gains and reduce emissions.
Commercial aviation currently accounts for about 12 percent of carbon dioxide produced by the transportation sector. That figure will grow to 19 percent in 2050, according to International Energy Agency projections. Without effective carbon dioxide standards, aviation threatens to negate progress in cutting emissions from other modes of transportation.
ICCT researchers modeled the fuel consumption of more than 25,000 planes produced and delivered over the past 50 years. Fuel burn was simulated for full loads over design-range routes, and calculated on the basis of both seat-kilometers (i.e. passengers alone) and ton-kilometers (passengers plus cargo).
The analysis found that fuel efficiency increased 80 percent from 1960 through the end of the 1980s, with most of the progress coming during the arrival of wide-body aircraft in the late 1960s, and with the development in the 1980s of more efficient mid-range aircraft such as the Boeing 757 and 767.
During the 1990s however, efficiency gains dropped to less than one percent annually. After 2000 fuel efficiency did not improve at all on a per passenger basis, even as fuel costs rose dramatically from about 10 percent of operating expenses in 2004 to peak at more than one-third in 2008.
"Conventional wisdom holds that fuel prices drive constant improvements in new aircraft efficiency. But this analysis suggests efficiency improvements actually tend to come with the introduction of new designs, which are much less common today" said ICCT senior researcher Daniel Rutherford, who co-authored the study with researcher Mazyar Zeinali.
In the two decades that efficiency has stagnated, the introduction of new aircraft designs has slowed considerably. The lack of new designs has approximately tripled the average age of operating aircraft production lines since 1990. Efficiency improvements by manufacturers today may be going more to improving performance, range and customer amenities rather than reducing fuel consumption.
Applying a carbon dioxide standard only to new production lines, as the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has proposed, could actually prove counterproductive by encouraging manufacturers to delay the introduction of more efficient designs in favor of older, unregulated models. To avoid such an outcome, the ICCT study concludes that a standard covering aircraft from both new and existing lines would be most effective.
The new study, "Efficiency Trends for New Commercial Jet Aircraft, 1960 to 2008," is available on the ICCT website.
Some think aviation can be both bigger and greener
The Economist print edition, Reuters - 10 December 2009
Never mind the carbon, what about a quiet night?
CLIMATE change is not bad news for everyone. To those living beneath the flight paths of busy airports such as Heathrow and Stansted, it brings hope of relief. Schemes to expand these airports to accommodate 570m passengers a year across Britain by 2050, up from 230m passengers today, could not possibly survive plans to cut Britain's carbon emissions by 80% by the same date, or so residents hoped.
Yet last January, to their dismay - and to the outrage of climate campaigners - ministers approved a third runway at Britain's biggest airport, Heathrow, to handle 605,000 flights a year, compared with 480,000 now. On December 8th the Committee on Climate Change, which advises ministers on cutting carbon emissions, published its report on their aviation policies. Campaigners had expected excoriation; what appeared, to their surprise, was a qualified blessing.
Greater efficiency, said the committee, would allow air travel to grow by 60% compared with its 2005 level without boosting carbon emissions. That is much less than the government, or the airlines, had planned - but much more than greens had expected, and enough to allow Heathrow's new runway to be built.
The forecast relies on several assumptions. Growth in demand would, says the committee, be constrained by a huge rise in the carbon price, to £200 ($324) a tonne by 2050 (from around £13 today), making tickets pricier. Governments would limit capacity at airports. A big shift from domestic and short-haul flights to a high-speed rail network linked to the continent (now a mere gleam in the government's eye) would also keep numbers down. And those flights that did go ahead would be cleaner, thanks to better jet-engine technology, bigger planes and more efficient flying practices, improving fuel efficiency by 0.8-1.5% each year. New biofuels that compete less directly with food production would cut carbon emissions further.
The committee's conclusions rely on technology and infrastructure that does not yet exist. That is probably inevitable when peering ahead 40 years, and Bruce Duguid, an aviation expert at the Carbon Trust, a government-funded consultancy, reckons the assumptions are pretty conservative. But privately some greens think that the supposedly independent committee has been leaned on by ministers to justify a decision they had already made.
Nonetheless, those opposed to expanding airports probably need not worry too much. The opposition Conservatives, who look likely to win the general election that must be held by June, are committed to halting the expansion of London's big airports, mainly on environmental grounds. The committee's conclusion may appear to challenge that - and, sensing vulnerability, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, two big airlines with a vested interest in a bigger Heathrow, have resumed their attacks on the Tories' position.
But the Tories are unlikely to reverse a policy that has wide support in their south-east heartland and the backing of most newspapers. They point out that noise and air pollution tell against expanding London's airports even before climate change enters the equation. And the government's plans for Heathrow would eat up all the carbon savings predicted by the committee, leaving nothing for other airports. Asks one Tory spokesman, "Do we want to put all our eggs in one basket?"
TRAVELLERS IGNORING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
TravelMole - 7 December 2009
British travellers are reluctant to cut their flying to help the environment, new research shows on the opening day of the Copenhagen Summit on climate change.
Only 13% of people are sufficiently concerned about the environmental impact of flying to cut the number of flights they take, while 15% admit that they are likely to fly more in the next year than they have in the past.
Ninety per cent of people are unlikely to change their holiday plans to reduce the environmental impact of their trip. Factors such as price and convenience are seen as being far more important, according to the study by research company TNS-RI Travel and Tourism.
The travel figures come in stark contrast to general environmental attitudes which show that the British public is becoming increasingly worried about climate change. Two thirds admit that they frequently discuss environmental issues, and 73% insist that they are 'very' or 'fairly' concerned about what the future holds.
Yet only five per cent of the 2,090 travellers polled have made a payment to offset the environmental cost of a trip and only 11% are confident that plans made by the governments of major economies will be able to tackle climate change. The company's group director Tom Costley said: "This research points to a 'hands off' approach to the question of travel and the environment."
"Even though we claim to be concerned about climate change, we prefer to consider our travel plans in isolation and avoid letting green concerns affect our flying."
"There seems to be a feeling that going on holiday is an escape from reality and everything that comes with it - including considering our role in the long-term health of our planet."
"Consumers are expecting the travel industry to take responsibility for implementing changes and improvements, rather than taking direct action themselves."
AIRLINES MAY PROFIT FROM CARBON TRADE
Rowena Mason - Daily Telegraph - 4 December 2009
Airlines could almost double their profits on the back of carbon trading if they succeed in passing on the full price of emissions permits to their customers, according to the Carbon Trust.
The organisation highlighted a huge variation in predicted airline profitability after emissions trading is introduced in Europe from 2012. It estimates that the worst-performing airline will see up to 80pc lower profits than the best-performing airline as a result of the system.
In total, passengers flying to and from Europe will pay an extra ?23bn (£21bn) to ?35bn on the price of their tickets between 2012 and 2020 based on an estimated carbon unit price of ?25, its new report will say next week.
This would compensate the aviation companies for the amount of permits they will have to buy if the heavy emitters do not switch to greener fuels.
However, the sector is given 82pc of its permits for free - and could see huge windfall profits if it adds the value of these free allowances on to ticket prices.
The Carbon Trust also calculated that the cost of jet fuel price is likely to rise 15pc if there is a carbon price of ?25. It warned jet fuel prices could rise by four times this amount if other harmful gases emitted by the industry are at some point included in the trading system.
The Carbon Trust will publish its full findings ahead of the key Kennedy report on aviation next week, led by the Government's Committee on Climate Change. David Kennedy, who leads the committee, is likely to outline draconian new controls in the UK that could involve more taxes on the sector or limits on flights and airports.
Last week, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, BAA, BAE Systems, Airbus UK and Rolls-Royce all signed up to a new industry-led Sustainable Aviation Manifesto ahead of the report, which they fear could damage the industry. It calls for a global framework for emissions, needed to stop the "differential impact" of nationally-imposed targets that would harm the UK.
Next week world leaders and businesses meet in Copenhagen for the world summit on the environment, where aviation emissions will be a key part of the debate. The industry has pledged to return emissions to 2000 levels by 2050.
TORIES UNDER PRESSURE TO RETHINK
AIRPORT EXPANSION POLICY
New climate report gives 'headroom' for changed stance
Green targets could be met even with more passengers
Dan Milmo - The Observer - 13 December 2009
The Conservative party faces pressure from businesses to lift a moratorium on airport expansion after the government's advisory body on climate change said a third runway could be built at Heathrow without breaching emissions targets.
Business lobby group London First said the report by the Committee on Climate Change gave the Tories "headroom" to change their stance. The committee said this week that British airports could handle a further 140 million people per year and still meet a target of capping 2050 carbon dioxide emissions at 2005 levels, challenging the Tory argument that expansion should be ruled out on environmental grounds.
"After the election I would like to see the Conservative party address the issue of how we support a globally linked economy in London and the south-east," said Baroness Valentine, London First's chief executive. "There are several competent economists among senior Tories, so they must understand the necessity of international connectivity to London's continued success."
She added: "A position that says we need no extra airport capacity in the future is reducing your options somewhat once you get into government."
The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the case for a new runway at Heathrow was "compelling" and it would be reiterating that to the Conservatives. "The committee's findings this week further reinforce the case for a third runway at Heathrow and we will be making the point to all political parties that there are now no reasonable grounds to halt expansion at the airport," said Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the LCCI.
Heathrow's owner, BAA said channelling new passengers into regional airports would cut the UK off from long-haul destinations. "The one form of aviation that we cannot substitute easily is long-haul and Heathrow can provide long-haul connections that no other airport can," said Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive.
One senior Conservative party figure admitted to the Observer that "there will be some pressure" applied to David Cameron, the Conservative party leader, and the shadow transport secretary, Theresa Villiers, in the wake of the report.
Earlier this year, Conservative frontbencher Geoffrey Clinton-Brown was slapped down after he indicated the Tories might revise the runway policy if they won the election. "It is pointless Britain cutting down on air travel only to find it goes to other European countries. So I expect this is an issue that will need to be revisited after the election," he said.
The committee's findings make it possible for any party to implement the government's 2003 aviation white paper without breaching the 2050 target. The paper recommends new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Edinburgh, which would see just over 130 million more passengers using British airports by 2030.
Villiers and David Cameron still appear to have strong support within the party. Steven Norris, architect of the Conservative runway embargo, said he disagreed with the committee's growth projections because they do not account for a sustained spike in oil prices in the decades to come. "God is on the side of Theresa Villiers and she has nothing to fear from the Committee on Climate Change," he said.
The former Tory transport minister recommended the moratorium in the influential Blueprint for a Green Economy policy document published by Zac Goldsmith and John Gummer two years ago, and believes that technological changes such as videoconferencing will negate long-haul flying. "The committee report points to the need for more runways but I think that everything points in the opposite direction, to the death of distance."
Villiers argues the extra growth can be taken up without adding runways at the UK's largest airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - even though airports based in the south-east handled nearly six out of 10 air passengers last year, when a total of 235 million travellers flew in and out of the UK. "The bigger the expansion permitted at Heathrow, the greater the constraints that will be faced by regional airports. Labour's approach could see regions yet again lose out as regional airports are left to wither on the vine to give head room for the massive carbon footprint caused by Heathrow expansion."
The Conservative stance is supported by Birmingham International Airport's chief executive, Paul Kehoe, who fears the report will be used as an excuse to grow Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted at the expense of the rest of the UK. If London's three largest airports were allowed to develop new runways, the others would not be able to handle any more passengers than they do currently.
COPENHAGEN CLIMATE SUMIT: 50/50 CHANCE OF
STOPPING CATASTROPHE, LORD STERN SAYS
An ambitious deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions needs to be agreed
at the Copenhagen climate summit to give a 50/50 chance of keeping temperatures from rising more than 2C, Lord Stern has said
Daily Telegraph - 1 December 2009
But failure to secure a new agreement could put the world at risk of temperature rises of more than 5C - a change in climate which he said "could only be described as catastrophic".
Temperature rises of 5C would "rewrite" where people could live and lead to serious extended global conflict, said Lord Stern, whose review for the Government set out the cost of tackling climate change.
And he warned if the Copenhagen climate talks fail it will be "deeply damaging" and difficult to recreate the opportunity the negotiations currently provide to shift the world onto a low carbon path.
He called on the European Union to show leadership ahead of the talks by making its offer to cut emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 - currently conditional on efforts by other countries - an unconditional one.
That would see the UK raise its target for cutting emissions to 42 per cent by the end of the next decade, with a move away from fossil fuels in the electricity sector, better insulation of houses, increased use of low carbon cars and more public transport.
Lord Stern put the figure at between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of GDP over the next few decades, but said investments "will produce very strong returns".
Financial support for developing countries to take steps to curb their emissions and cope with the consequences of climate change is necessary in the next few years - with some $50 billion (£30 billion) a year required by 2015, he said.
Measures such as taxes on flying or carbon taxes, or using the cash raised by auctioning permits polluters buy to cover their carbon emissions under the EU emissions trading scheme, could be used to fund the financial aid.
Lord Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said in order to give the world a 50/50 chance of keeping temperature rises below 2C, global emissions had to be brought down from around 47 billion tonnes to about 44 billion tonnes in 2020.
He said the pledges for emissions cuts put down by countries ranging from the US and Europe to Brazil and Indonesia were, if the most ambitious levels suggested were put into place, "not so very far away" from what was needed.
A report put out by the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy showed existing commitments by developed and developing countries could take the world most of the way to the 44 billion tonnes target in a deal at Copenhagen.
The gap could be closed by rich countries delivering their highest intentions or going even further to cut emissions and providing extra funding to help poor countries reduce their pollution, by big economies such as China coming forward with more domestic action and with reductions in global shipping and aviation.
He said the meeting in Copenhagen was the most important since the Second World War, given what was at stake, but that success could spark off the "biggest dynamic period in history".
"When we find low carbon growth, it will be more energy secure, cleaner, quieter, safer and more biodiverse," he said, adding "High carbon growth is a contradiction in terms - it will kill itself".
Ahead of the talks he said China's announcement, it planned to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy - the emissions per unit of economic output - by 40% to 45%, showed it was trying to decouple growth and pollution and that the country may go further before the end of Copenhagen.
And the US must come to agreement on financial measures to help poorer countries tackle climate change - with strong support from America for contributing finance for areas such as stopping deforestation and sharing technology, he urged.
MPS BACK THIRD RUNWAY AT HEATHROW AIRPORT
Support for Heathrow expansion comes ahead of a report on
aviation industry's progress in meeting climate target
Dan Milmo - The Guardian - 7 December 2009
The government's approval of a third runway at Heathrow has been endorsed by MPs, ahead of the publication tomorrow of an independent report on aviation's contribution to climate change.
The House of Commons transport committee backs the expansion of Britain's largest airport in a report published today, adding that airline passengers would be better served by a second runway at Gatwick rather than Stansted. "In view of the economic benefits to the UK, we endorse the government's January 2009 decision to support a third runway at Heathrow and an additional terminal," says the report.
It states that a second runway at Stansted is unlikely to be completed before 2019 due to planning wrangles and priority should be given instead to Gatwick, where an embargo against expanding Britain's second largest airport expires in 2019.
The endorsement of the Heathrow policy comes as the Committee on Climate Change prepares to publish its own aviation report. Alongside approving a third runway, the government introduced a target of limiting aviation's carbon dioxide emissions to 2005 levels by 2050. The committee, set up to advise ministers how to reduce carbon emissions, will report on aviation's progress towards the target tomorrow, including comments on whether a third runway will hinder the industry's ability to meet the 2050 benchmark.
A leading campaigner against Heathrow expansion said the transport committee had "failed to move with the times". John Stewart, who chairs Hacan (Heathrow Association for the Control of Airport Noise), added: "It trots out the tired, old discredited arguments in favour of Heathrow expansion. The economic case for Heathrow expansion is just no longer accepted by the majority of decision-makers."
Ministers argue that congestion-choked Heathrow needs to expand, otherwise leading businesses including financial services firms will locate their bases in countries with larger, less crowded airports. With a third runway, Heathrow would go from handling 67 million people a year to 135 million. If there is no expansion those passengers will simply go elsewhere, travelling through rival hubs in Paris or Amsterdam at considerable cost to British jobs, the government believes.
The Liberal Democrats warn today that an expanded Heathrow will cost the government billions in terms of the price of carbon dioxide generated by 220,000 extra flights a year. "In light of the new government guidance on the cost of CO2 emissions, Heathrow expansion will actually cost us billions," said Susan Kramer, the party's Heathrow spokeswoman. "Only this government could dress up a loss of billions of pounds as a reason to have a third runway. We don't need a bigger Heathrow to keep London competitive."
The Conservatives are also opposed to a third runway.
The transport committee also backed high-speed rail as a key feature of Britain's future transport infrastructure, arguing that it is "imperative" that the new network is linked to airports such as Heathrow.
TRANSPORT COMMITTEE 'UNSURE ABOUT STANSTED RUNWAY'
Ministers have been told to consider creating another runway at Gatwick
BBC News - 7 December 2009
Consideration should be given to building an extra runway at Gatwick rather than Stansted, a report by MPs has suggested. The Commons Transport Committee said it was "not convinced" a national case for another Stansted runway had been made.
It supported Heathrow's expansion but called for assurances that the west London airport would be linked to other major airports by high-speed rail.
The government said its position on Gatwick and Stansted was unchanged.
In January, ministers gave the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow, saying it was right for the UK. That move was opposed by environmentalists and people living by the flightpath.
The runway is expected to be finished by about 2019, but the transport committee voiced concerns about a "lack of clarity" on the timescale for completion. It also said it was unlikely the airport would become a hub airport for many UK cities.
Committee chairman Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said aviation was important to the regions as well as south-east England.
"Heathrow is a major European hub airport but only six UK cities have flights into it," she said.
"Even with expansion, we need to improve direct access to Heathrow from the national rail network in order to maximise the economic benefits and to reduce the environmental impacts."
On Stansted, the committee report said it was unlikely a second runway could be completed at the Essex airport before 2019, the year when the current restriction on a second runway at Gatwick expires. "The government should reconsider whether the additional runway, if required, should be located at Gatwick rather than Stansted," it said.
The MPs also said they wanted the government to say how much the aviation industry was being taxed. They raised concerns over the way the industry was being left to the "vagaries of the market". And they urged caution over setting the level of the air passenger duty airport departure tax at a time when the industry is particularly vulnerable.
Easyjet chief executive Andy Harrison, one of the witnesses who gave evidence to the committee, said the key to sustainable aviation was technology, not taxation. "This means setting minimum standards for aircraft emissions to force airlines to use the most modern aircraft and to force aircraft manufacturers to bring forward the next generation of aircraft much sooner. We must also reform perverse taxes like APD (Air Passenger Duty), which taxes full aircraft more than empty aircraft. How daft is that?" he said.
Other suggestions made in the MPs' report included:
The Civil Aviation Authority's Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) system levy to be raised and extended to cover all international flights as well as package holidays.
Higher environmental standards to reduce carbon emissions, air pollution and noise.
Old and noisy planes to be taken out of use promptly.
The Department for Transport welcomed the committee's endorsement of government backing for a third runway at Heathrow and its views on the need for good connections between Heathrow and high speed rail. A department spokesman said HS2, the company preparing the high speed rail plan, has been asked to recommend a north-south line with options for connections to Heathrow.
On expansion at Gatwick and Stansted, he added that the government's position remained unchanged.
OUR COMMENT: Not the most enlightened report to publish just before the start of the Copenhagen conference. Don't they understand what its all about?
WHY WE SHOULD RECYCLE OUR AIRPORTS
Hayley Chivers - Architects' Journal - 26 November 2009
Foster + Partner's proposal for Heathrow Terminal 2 ignores the possibility of the zero-carbon airport, says Hayley Chivers
Yesterday's closure of Heathrow's Terminal 2 and its now-imminent demolition has gone relatively unnoticed by the architectural community.
It is clear somethings needs to be done at Terminal 2: the existing terminal was designed to accommodate 1.2 million passengers per year and now regularly deals with 8 million. The issue also lacks the Schadenfreude of Terminal 5's teething problems or the political drama of the third runway battle.
Yet we should ask why airport planners continue to wipe out the old buildings and replace them with entirely new structures - in this case one costing £1bn. This approach would raise eyebrows if copied in hospital complexes, military compounds or train stations.
Colin Matthews, British Airports Authority (BAA) chief executive insists that the replacement terminal will have 'less impact on the environment' because it will produce 40 per cent less carbon than the existing building. Although noble, this dodges the question of how much carbon will be produced by constructing the new buildings - and just how much could be saved by re-fitting and expanding the old one. Can a new build's eco-credentials really outweigh the environmental impact of its predecessor's demolition and replacement?
It seems contradictory for a government who has introduced astonishingly high sustainability targets - such as all public buildings built from 2016 to be zero-carbon - to endorse such a development. Developers of eco-projects in other sectors - notably residential and offices - may feel undermined by the carbon heavy manoeuvrings of a carbon heavy industry.
Airports have the autonomy and space to implement wind and solar power schemes
Incorporating structural elements or waste material from the existing building could reduce the ground works and overall waste of the development. Aviation will have to get its own house in order, but architecture can help create the zero-carbon airport once the planes are on the ground. Airports have the autonomy and space to implement wind and solar power schemes - and might in future harness the kinetic energy of planes.
It is understandable that the airports need to keep one step ahead of competitors by being 'cutting edge', with beautiful precedents such as Rogers' Stirling Prize wining Barajas Airport in Madrid, Foster's Beijing Airport and Piano's Kansai Airport in Japan. Maybe it is time that 'cutting edge' means the zero-carbon airport, built in a sustainable way as an example to the rest of the world of what can be achieved elegantly with existing structure and existing space.
BAA claims the newly envisaged terminal is intended to 'rival' Heathrow's own Terminal 5. If Terminal 2 lives up to the hype, perhaps Richard Rogers will be commissioned to re-built terminal 5 in a new streamlined form, to more efficiently cope with the diminished number of visitors.
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS HAS COST
THE AVIATION INDUSTRY TWO YEARS OF GROWTH
IATA Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, stated the global economic crisis has "cost the industry two years of growth"
Aviation Analyst - 3 December 2009
Mr Bisignani stated the "improvement that has started since passenger traffic hit bottom in March is similar to the pace of growth in 2006 and 2007", adding that "without an exaggerated rebound from pent-up demand, there will be no rapid catch-up to the growth trend established in the 2005 to early-2008 period".
This echoes similar comments made earlier this month by ACI Europe, in which the airport association stated 82% of European airports have reported reductions in traffic so far this year. ACI Europe now expects that more than 105 million passengers will be "lost" by the end of 2009, meaning that European airports have seen "three years of growth lost" (as passenger traffic has fallen below 2006 levels in 2009), due to the "sharp and entrenched" reductions in air traffic.
Upon the release of the latest IATA international air traffic statistics for Oct-2009, Mr Bisignani added that "Yields remain under severe pressure", despite a "modest" increase in air fares since mid-2009. According to IATA, it remains "around 20% less expensive to fly in real terms today than it was a year ago".
OUR COMMENT: Less expensive!! Not what some of the airlines have claimed!
CARBON OFFSET SCHEMES NOT WORKING, SAYS HOLIDAY FIRM
Schemes allow people to offset emissions from flying or driving
Consumer carbon offset schemes do not lead people to change their behaviour, the first holiday firm to run such a scheme has argued
BBC News - 28 November 2009
Responsible Travel said they were a "distraction" from climate change's real urgency and is ending its scheme.
Such schemes involve individuals paying a premium for the emissions generated by certain choices, such as flying.
The International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance says offsetting has an impact, but governments must do more.
Carbon offset schemes also cover things like choosing to drive a car or choices around the way homes are heated.
'Assuage your guilt'
Money raised under the schemes is used to pay for carbon reduction projects in developing countries, such as installing solar power or capturing methane gas released by farm animals.
Some environmentalists argue that while these schemes bring some benefit, offsetting has not changed people's behaviour enough and emissions covered by such schemes should be avoided in the first place.
Justin Francis, founder of Responsible Travel, said: "It's perceived as this magic pill, this get out of jail free card if you like, that means you don't need to change your behaviour. You can go on flying just as much as you were before, you can run your hotel the way you were before, but through this magic pill somehow you can assuage your guilt."
"People are using offsetting to take responsibility for their unavoidable emissions" - Jonathan Shopley, International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance.
"We need to be reducing the amount we pollute and I think carbon offsetting is a distraction from that."
Andy Atkins, director of Friends of the Earth, agreed that introducing offsetting alone allowed individuals and companies to continue with business as usual. He said: "We understand why people wanted to offset in the belief that it was reducing their emissions, but it isn't working and we have to recognise now that the science says we have to cut our emissions really, at home. That means governments and individuals doing everything they can to reduce their genuine carbon impact and offsetting doesn't do that."
'Making a difference'
The body representing those who run the schemes insist they do bring real benefits to the developing world. Jonathan Shopley, of the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance, said: "It's not going to solve the climate change issue on its own, that's for sure. That needs government action, taxes. We need to stop doing certain things, but by the same account people are using offsetting to take responsibility for their unavoidable emissions and they need to understand that is a good thing and is making a difference."
Joan Ruddock, minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said: "Of course [offsetting is] not a solution to climate change - it's a tiny contribution - but it does help people to think about what they are doing. But we do need emissions reductions on quite a different scale and that is why we have a Climate Change Act and absolute limits on our emissions in this country."
PATRON JOINS CAMPAIGNERS AT TREE PLANTING
Campaigners opposed to the expansion of Stansted airport gathered for a tree planting in honour of their first chairman
Cambridge News - 1 December 2009
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) members gathered at the SSE Wood, on Broxted Hill, yesterday.
The group's patron, Terry Waite, planted an oak tree in honour of their first chairman, the late Norman Mead MBE, who fought against the expansion of the airport for three decades.
Mr Waite then attended a community lunch. He praised the efforts of SSE in fighting the proposals and said a new runway would affect the local community, and also have a global effect in terms of climate change.
SSE's Carol Barbone said: "The sun came out for the planting and we had a rainbow. We felt Norman was looking down on us. We had 103 people for lunch and about the same number for the tree planting."
Under BAA's proposals, a two runway, two-terminal Stansted would see its first flights in 2017 and serve 68 million passengers per year in about2030.
PARTY POLICIES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Comments - Julian Graff - The Guardian - 17 November 2009
Individuals can agitate against climate change and act to mitigate its effects. But it's politicians who presently hold the purse strings and develop public policy frameworks. How've they been doing, and what are their plans for the future?
The UK's Labour government boasts it has been at the forefront in the global fight to curb emissions. "We have led the way internationally on climate change: we were the first to put climate change at the heart of the G8, the first to call a UN Security Council meeting on climate change, and the first to introduce a Climate Change Bill which binds the UK government by law to reduce carbon emissions by a third by 2020 and by 80% by 2050," it says.
Result? UK CO2 emissions fell by 10.8 million tonnes last year (though the recession helped) and greenhouse gas emissions were 66 million tonnes lower than in 1997, the Government says. UK greenhouse gas emissions are now 21 per cent below 1990 levels, "beating our Kyoto target."
Acknowledging there's still much to be done, Labour says: "Our ambition is to reduce our CO2 emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020." How will this be achieved? Through a £100bn blueprint to triple renewable energy production to provide 30 per cent of electricity needs, up to 10 new nuclear power stations and the use of 'clean' fossil fuels - new coal driven power stations with built-in carbon capture and storage.
These are "the trinity of low carbon fuels of the future" according to Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Milliband who recently unveiled for consultation six draft national energy policy statements.
Linked to these, a controversial new Infrastructure Planning Commission has been created to fast-track major projects - a vital tool to avoid unnecessary and bureaucratic delay says the Government; a potential threat to local democracy according to critics.
Then there's a target to make all new homes zero-carbon from 2016; five million households have already received help towards insulation with plans to aid five million more, while recycling has quadrupled since 1997. A 'waste strategy' for England should deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to at least 9.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2020.
Britain now has more offshore wind capacity than any country in the world, says Labour. Last year it provided electricity for 2m homes, with more on and off-shore sites planned. And 100m low energy light bulbs are being distributed and other energy saving products will be provided to 4 million homes, while businesses with an energy bill of more £1m a year must comply with new legislation to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency (The Carbon Reduction Commitment) from next year. Carbon reporting will be mandatory for many firms from 2012.
However, international carbon 'cap and trade' schemes backed by all main parties and aimed at curbing industrial emissions are ineffective and possibly sowing the seeds of future financial crashes, according to Friends of the Earth.
Meanwhile, the Government has pledged that emissions from aviation will not be above 2005 levels in 2050 and has allocated £250m to hasten the arrival of electric cars, although the chairman of the government's own Climate Change Commission Adair Turner said the CCC wants £800m of public money invested in a network of charging points. Lord Turner also believes that it will cost between £10,000 and £15,000 to turn each existing household into energy-efficient, low-carbon units.
The Government says: "In the teeth of a recession we had a budget which found £1.4bn for new investment in developing a low carbon economy. More than 20 per cent of public investment since last November has been on sustainable and green projects and more than 1.2 million people will be in 'green jobs' by 2020."
Looking ahead to the UN's December climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Ed Miliband says: "The stakes couldn't be higher." He wants a deal to limit climate change to 2 degrees by ensuring global greenhouse gas emissions peak and start to reduce by 2020, with strong monitoring, reporting and verification guaranteed, while support is given to the poorest countries to cut emissions and adapt to climate change.
In Scotland, talk of the Copenhagen meeting is like a red rag to a bull. The ruling Scottish National Party - it steered through the Scottish Parliament a Climate Change Bill which a target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 with an interim target of 42% reduction by 2020 - is campaigning for a Scottish Minister to be part of the UK delegation in Denmark.
SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "Our bill is world-leading and it is achievable but there must be an international agreement that ambitious targets must be set. It is ridiculous that despite the example Scotland has set to the world the UK Government refuses to allow a Scottish Minister to join the delegation."
The SNP opposes any extension of nuclear power, arguing that Scotland has the natural resources (including wind and wave-driven power plants) to generate clean, green energy. And a state-backed community project, PURE, on the Shetland Island of Unst, has produced among other pioneering work a hydrogen-charged electric car as an alternative or supplement to Lord Turner's plans.
"The creation of an infrastructure to refuel road vehicles with hydrogen means that there will be a realistic alternative to petrol and diesel," says SNP MSP Rob Gibson. "The prospect of a 'Hydrogen Corridor' between Aberdeen and Inverness is an exciting first for Scotland and the UK."
Like the SNP, The Liberal Democrats are also opposed to any extension of the nuclear programme although their 2009 Conference did pass an amendment recognising that 'clean coal' would be part of the planet's energy sources. However, Liberal Democrats alone dare to talk openly about so-called 'green taxes', albeit in the form of inducements. They will create 'real incentives' for businesses and individuals to go green. "Through our green tax switch and changes in general demand, environmentally friendly technology can become a booming market."
On Transport, Liberal Democrats propose a Future Transport Fund to invest in a UK-wide high speed rail network; to work with the EU to introduce steadily-tougher mandatory vehicle emissions targets with zero-carbon emission for all new cars by 2040; to require at least 10 per cent of all transport fuels to come from renewable sources by 2015 and to ensure that the UK emissions target in the Climate Change Bill includes aviation and shipping.
Energy proposals include the production of bio-gas energy from waste while "we will invest in a Grid upgrade to provide incentives for massive expansion of renewable projects in the North Sea."
Predicting that current Government policy could soon lead to power cuts for the first time since the 1970s, The Conservative Party says: "With our energy supplies increasingly sourced overseas, and with urgent action needed to combat climate change, it's time to rethink the way we supply and consume energy in Britain."
The answer, say the Tories, is urgently to move to a low-carbon economy "in order to strengthen our economy, help guarantee our energy security and protect our environment for future generations." So any future Conservative Government pledges to make the development of renewable and low carbon energy sources a priority.
The Tories plan to create 'a decentralised energy revolution' by introducing a system of 'feed-in tariffs' to encourage the micro-generation of electricity. This would be accomplished by transforming electricity networks using 'smart grid' and 'smart meter' technology that automatically matches supply and demand, "allowing a huge increase in renewable power."
This would be coupled with an expansion of offshore wind and marine power which would see government backing for a network of large-scale Marine Energy Parks. There are also pledges of up to £6,500-worth of home insulation improvements, enabling households to reduce their gas and electricity bills, not to mention emissions.
The Conservatives will only permit coal-fired power stations to be built with clean carbon capture and storage technology and while nuclear power will be part of the energy mix, "it is not an alternative to developing and expanding renewable forms of energy."
Regarding transport, the Tories say they will cancel all moves to a third runway at Heathrow; deliver a national recharging network to boost greener driving choices and the switch to electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, while ushering in a "high speed rail revolution."
Looking ahead to Copenhagen, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Greg Clark recently told the House of Commons: "It is vital that a clear message goes out from the UK that there is complete unity of purpose between the British Government and the Conservative Party in securing a deal that is fair, ambitious and binding."
OUR COMMENT: Lets hope the assessment is correct!
A320 'SHARKLETS' TAKE A NICE BITE OUT OF FUEL BURN
Gregory Polek - Ain Online - 16 November 2009
Air Transport and Cargo
Airbus unveiled a much-anticipated advance to its A320 family yesterday when it launched a program to develop new wingtip devices called "Sharklets". To cost an extra $900,000 installed, the new devices will improve fuel burn on the A320 family by 3.5 percent on "longer" sectors, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of some 730 metric tons per aircraft. Airbus COO for customers John Leahy told an afternoon press gathering that the first Sharklets will appear on launch operator Air New Zealand A320s by the end of 2012, followed by the first application on A321s some six months later, then on A319s and, eventually, A318s.
Dr. Kiran Rao, Airbus executive vice president of sales and marketing customer affairs, explained to AIN that although the Sharklets needed strengthening of the airplanes' wing boxes and will add some 440 pounds, computer modeling will allow Airbus to shed a corresponding amount of weight from both the wing structure and airframe, resulting in no weight penalty.
He further explained that the Sharklets' differ from conventional winglets in their contour and shape, resulting in an 1,100-pound increase in payload or 110 nm in extra range, to 3,350 nm in an A320, faster time to climb and up to a 2-percent reduction in engine maintenance costs. Airbus also estimates that the Sharklets will save operators $220,000 worth of fuel per aircraft per year and result in a mtow increase of as much as three metric tons.
Leahy noted that because the Sharklets "are not that easy to retrofit", Airbus has decided to make them available initially only on new-build airplanes. "We're looking at what can be done," he said, adding that Airbus has held talks with Aviation Partners, the company that builds winglets for Boeing's narrow bodies. "Some people might ask, 'What took you so long?'" said Leahy. "Well, we wanted to get it right. Our competitor uses the old standard."
Air New Zealand plans to use its Sharklet-equipped A320s across its domestic network and, particularly, on longer trans-Tasman sectors. Airline CEO Rob Fyfe said the Sharklets turned the competition for ANZ's narrowbody tender in favor of Airbus. Leahy noted that the 3.5-percent improvement in efficiency comes in addition to the 1-percent benefit the current wingtip fences bring.
The Sharklet installation also keeps the A320 family within ICAO Class C (wingspan less than 119 feet) and will result in higher available takeoff weights, notably from obstacle-limited runways. Moreover, where runway performance is not limiting, operators should profit from a reduction in average takeoff thrust (with consequent savings in engine maintenance costs by around 2 percent), while communities benefit from lower takeoff noise.
This latest development represents part of the larger, continuous improvement program for the A320 family, supported by an annual investment of more than $150 million. To this end, Airbus has conducted a thorough campaign over several years to evaluate improved large aerodynamic devices, using not only Airbus' company-owned A320 test aircraft, but also its advanced computational-fluid-dynamics (CFD) simulation-tools. An engine upgrade for the current A320s could become available by the middle of this decade.
OUR COMMENT: As is unfortunately usually the case, when such new improvements designed to relieve one aspect of aircraft's unpleasant environmental effects are announced, we are never told the whole story. How does this affect noise? Will the "lower take-off noise" extend to the aircraft's exit from the airport's noise map? What about Nitrogen oxides emissions?
BAA SEES LOSES SOAR TO £785M AFTER GATWICK SALE
Daily Mail - 10 November 2009
Airports operator BAA today announced a jump in nine-month losses after it was hit by a write-down linked to this month's sale of Gatwick airport.
The pre-tax loss, which relates to BAA's three London airports of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, rose to £785million in the period to the end of September, up from £519million a year earlier.
The Spanish-owned group suffered a £225million hit from the difference between Gatwick's £1.5billion sale to London City Airport owner Global Infrastructure Partners and its value in BAA's accounts. BAA's Gatwick sale price was well below its own valuation.
An exceptional charge of £262million against BAA's pension scheme deficit and £136million of losses on financial instruments added to the bottom-line loss, although BAA said its underlying performance had been good.
Chief executive Colin Matthews said Heathrow showed 'continued resilience', with passenger numbers down by 2.3 per cent, while the operator also benefited from higher retail spending and tight cost controls.
BAA's underlying earnings rose 17 per cent to £805million, despite passengers numbers falling 5.5 per cent to 91million at the three airports.
BAA saw passenger numbers by 1.4 per cent in October, a small monthly fall compared with the 12.5 per cent drop this time last winter.
But BAA's airports have lost more than 200,000 passengers a week over the last two years.
Mr Matthews added: "The accounting losses we are reporting today reflect non-cash exceptional charges and do not reflect the strong underlying performance of the business."
The company reported an improved operational performance after the proportion of aircraft departing from Heathrow within 15 minutes of schedule averaged 78 per cent in the nine months, up from 67 per cent a year earlier. The proportion of passengers passing through security in less than five minutes was 98 per cent, against 95 per cent in 2008.
BAA will use the proceeds of the Gatwick sale to repay debt, including £1billion of borrowings due next March. The company's debt pile stood at £9.8billion at the end of September.
The Competition Commission has ruled that BAA must sell Gatwick and Stansted and one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports - a decision that BAA is currently appealing against at a competition tribunal.
Today's trading figures do not include the company's non-London operations.
UPDATE 1 - BAA SEEKS 500MLN STG AS TARGETS BOND MARKET
Reuters - 13 November 2009
* Cash to facilitate access to capital markets
* To develop long-term finance platform to upgrade airports
* Ferrovial shares down 1.5 pct
Britain's BAA, the owner of Heathrow airport, said on Friday it is to raise 500 million pounds ($831 million) to help shore up its balance sheet as it works to make itself attractive to bond market investors.
The operator, majority owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial (FER.MC), said in October that it was planning to re-enter the bond market "soon" after it offloaded Gatwick airport and paid down 1 billion pounds of its debt.
Entering the bond market will help the airports operator to raise cash on a regular basis to help it fund its programme of upgrading its portfolio of airports, which also includes London Stansted. The new funding, which consists of 200 million pounds of new equity from shareholders and 300 million from BAA Airports Limited, will be used to further pay down debt and strengthen its financial ratios.
At 0804 GMT shares in Ferrovial were down 1.5 percent.
(Reporting by Ben Deighton; Editing by Kate Holton)
HEATHROW, STANSTED TO GET £500M
This is London - 13 November 2009
Heathrow and Stansted airports were told today that they will be getting a massive £500 million injection of cash.
The airports have been laid low by the worst airline recession in history and the cash will come mainly from their international owners.
The money is aimed at shoring up debt at the two airports and to enable continuing upgrades. In the latest alert to the dire state of the aviation industry - BAA's airports have in aggregate been losing passengers for 19 straight months - BAA announced its shareholders are to stand behind the need for a major cash injection.
Of the £500 million, nearly £200 million will come from BAA's majority shareholder Ferrovial, the Spanish construction giant which has had its own financial problems back home. Another £150 million is to come from Ferrovial's partners in the original takeover of BAA, the Canadian pension fund CDPQ and GIC the international investment arm of the government of Singapore.
The other £150 million is to come from within the BAA group which includes Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports. It means that of BAA's cash reserves, £150 million is being directly pumped into Heathrow and Stansted.
In a statement BAA said: "The funding will be used to pay down debt, strengthen the group's medium-term financial ratios and facilitate its access to the capital markets. The injection furthers BAA's strategy of developing a long-term platform to finance its rolling programme of investment to upgrade its London airport facilities and improve service to customers."
It is understood BAA had to secure the new funding as a prerequisite to going to the bond market to restructure its current debt mountain which - before the £1.5 billion sale of Gatwick - was around £10 billion.
Gatwick was sold last month in a deal far lower than BAA had previously hoped.
90 JOBS TO GO AT STANSTED AIRPORT?
James Burton - Herts & Essex Observer - 13 November 2009
CHECK-IN staff at Stansted Airport face unemployment over Christmas after being made redundant this week. Baggage-handling firm Swissport confirmed that 39 employees have been given their marching orders in a cost-cutting measure and a further 51 jobs were at risk.
A spokesman said that every step would be taken to avoid further losses, but confessed up to 90 permanent positions could be axed. However, he declined to give a timeframe as negotiations are ongoing.
Of the staff shown the door, 12 were check-in clerks dealing directly with customers and the rest worked behind the scenes as baggage handlers for Swissport, which has contracts with Ryanair and other airlines based at the terminal. Only 15 accepted voluntary redundancy.
Among the casualties is 23-year-old Parsonage Lane resident Tristan Woodward. His father Colin, Bishop's Stortford's mayor, has not had permanent work for seven months despite years of HR management experience. Tristan is now the fourth person in their six-strong household to lose their job.
Swissport denies any connection between its lay-offs and Ryanair's recent launch of automated check-in facilities, but a spokesman for Stansted's owner BAA told us: "The airlines are getting into the situation where there's no need for check-in agents and they don't need as many staff - many passengers just print off their own boarding cards now."
In total, Swissport is looking to cut up to 300 of its 2,700 UK employees at Stansted, Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham. A Swissport spokesman said: "The number of staff employed at Stansted varies from season to season depending on airline flying programmes and changes to contracts. Most changes are absorbed by attrition, but occasionally we have to make redundancies."
In May, 270 jobs were confirmed to be at risk at Stortford and Stansted engineering firms Inflite, Urbanhurst and SR Technic as well as international courier TNT Worldwide Express.
According to the latest statistics, the joblessness rate in East Herts is now at 3.5 per cent from 2005?s figure of 2.5 per cent - and it stands at 3.3 per cent in Uttlesford, the district's highest level in more than a decade.
Last week, the Observer joined forces with Stortford's MP Mark Prisk to launch a petition to return Bishop's Stortford's Jobcentre Plus, which closed more than three years ago.
Readers' Letters - Dunmow Broadcast - 12 November 2009
HOW can BAA claim to be good neighbours to the local community while supporting airlines and their low flying tactics on takeoff just in
order to save a small amount of fuel?
I suggest the executives of BAA rent a property directly under the flight path so they can experience the increase in noise first hand.
See how they enjoy that!
GREEN TAXES NOT BEING SPENT WISELY,
CLAIM AVIATION EXPERTS
Travel Mole - 12 November 2009
Three senior players in the aviation and sustainable travel arena have called on the world's governments to stop throwing environmental tax revenues into the general pot and start reinvesting them in green solutions.
In a climate that has seen much hostility towards the UK government for its huge APD hikes this month and more next November, BAA Stansted's head of environment Dr Andy Jefferson, Emirates divisional senior vice-president commercial operations worldwide Richard Vaughan and Manchester Metropolitan University?s professor of sustainable aviation Dr Callum Thomas told a WTM seminar that they were concerned these funds were ill-directed.
Said Dr Jefferson: "The UK Airport Operators Association did a paper last week on the APD and its impact. It showed tax recovered from APD was £806 million in 2001/2 and in 2007/8 it was £1.99 billion. My concern is that this money is going into lots of different government pots - the banks too probably - and not being put back into helping the aviation industry find a solution to the CO2 emissions crisis."
Dr Thomas added: "Globally, governments are aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% and in developed economies those governments need to reduce emissions by 80%. And all the time emissions are going up as we struggle to find a solution. We are simply not developing the technology fast enough to offset our emissions right now. Our governments need to reinvest all the emission tax money they are getting into finding a solution."
Emirates' Vaughan added: "I know that some money is being reinvested in this area but I also think some of the money goes elsewhere."
Dr Thomas said: "If we do not solve the technology solution then we will not enjoy the global mobility that we do today. Many of the developing countries that rely on aviation-based tourism will not enjoy that economic input either. We have about 50 to 60 years left of useable oil on this planet. This is how long we have left to deal with this issue."
KEY OIL FIGURES WERE DISTORTED BY US PRESSURE,
Exclusive: Watchdog's estimates of reserves inflated says top official
Terry Macalister - The Guardian - 10 November 2009
The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.
The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.
The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow - which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.
In particular they question the prediction in the last World Economic Outlook, believed to be repeated again this year, that oil production can be raised from its current level of 83m barrels a day to 105m barrels. External critics have frequently argued that this cannot be substantiated by firm evidence and say the world has already passed its peak in oil production.
Now the "peak oil" theory is gaining support at the heart of the global energy establishment. "The IEA in 2005 was predicting oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030 although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year," said the IEA source, who was unwilling to be identified for fear of reprisals inside the industry. "The 120m figure always was nonsense but even today's number is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this.
"Many inside the organisation believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further. And the Americans fear the end of oil supremacy because it would threaten their power over access to oil resources," he added.
A second senior IEA source, who has now left but was also unwilling to give his name, said a key rule at the organisation was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" but the fact was that there was not as much oil in the world as had been admitted. "We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad," he added.
The IEA acknowledges the importance of its own figures, boasting on its website: "The IEA governments and industry from all across the globe have come to rely on the World Energy Outlook to provide a consistent basis on which they can formulate policies and design business plans." The British government, among others, always uses the IEA statistics rather than any of its own to argue that there is little threat to long-term oil supplies.
The IEA said tonight that peak oil critics had often wrongly questioned the accuracy of its figures. A spokesman said it was unable to comment ahead of the 2009 report being released tomorrow.
John Hemming, the MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on peak oil and gas, said the revelations confirmed his suspicions that the IEA underplayed how quickly the world was running out and this had profound implications for British government energy policy.
He said he had also been contacted by some IEA officials unhappy with its lack of independent scepticism over predictions. "Reliance on IEA reports has been used to justify claims that oil and gas supplies will not peak before 2030. It is clear now that this will not be the case and the IEA figures cannot be relied on," said Hemming.
"This all gives an importance to the Copenhagen [climate change] talks and an urgent need for the UK to move faster towards a more sustainable [lower carbon] economy if it is to avoid severe economic dislocation," he added.
The IEA was established in 1974 after the oil crisis in an attempt to try to safeguard energy supplies to the west. The World Energy Outlook is produced annually under the control of the IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, who has defended the projections from earlier outside attack. Peak oil critics have often questioned the IEA figures.
But now IEA sources who have contacted the Guardian say that Birol has increasingly been facing questions about the figures inside the organisation.
Matt Simmons, a respected oil industry expert, has long questioned the decline rates and oil statistics provided by Saudi Arabia on its own fields. He has raised questions about whether peak oil is much closer than many have accepted.
A report by the UK Energy Research Council (UKERC) last month said worldwide production of conventionally extracted oil could "peak" and go into terminal decline before 2020 - but that the government was not facing up to the risk. Steve Sorrell, chief author of the report, said forecasts suggesting oil production will not peak before 2030 were "at best optimistic and at worst implausible".
But as far back as 2004 there have been people making similar warnings. Colin Campbell, a former executive with Total of France told a conference: "If the real [oil reserve] figures were to come out there would be panic on the stock markets? in the end that would suit no one."
CARBON BUDGETS ARE 'FAIR' SAYS LORD SMITH
Everyone in Britain should have their own carbon budget that will limit how many foreign holidays they can take and how many miles they can drive,
the Government's chief environment adviser has said
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 10 November 2009
Lord Smith of Finsbury, the Chairman of the Environment Agency (EA), said introducing "personal carbon allowances" in the next 20 years was the only way the UK could meet ambitious climate change targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He said it was the most fair way of rationing carbon than allowing the market to decide in the future when fuels become more expensive.
"Do we simply use a price mechanism so only the rich can take a flight or do we have an allowance mechanisms so that people who do not have much money can take a flight?" he asked.
The UN Climate Change Conference in December is likely to commit rich countries to cutting their greenhouse gases by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020.
Speaking at the Environment Agency annual conference, Lord Smith said that the best way to do this is to introduce "carbon taxes" on fossil fuels that will force industry to stop polluting. This will "inevitably" lead to a rise in petrol prices.
He said the only fair way forward is to allow everyone a certain amount of carbon so that both rich and poor have the same opportunity to take part in "carbon intensive activities" like flying.
"We do need to address the issue of equity because what will inevitably come out of Copenhagen is the price of a litre of petrol or taking a flight is likely to go up," he said. "Does that mean you are going to consign people who are on low incomes to not having the ability to do anything that generates more carbon, whereas people who have more money will be able to do what they like? That equity issue is seriously one that we need to think about."
OUR COMMENT: A little common sense goes a long way! Especially if Peak Oil has passed.
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH ATTACKS CARBON TRADING
An FoE report says 'cap and trade' carbon markets have done little to reduce emissions but have been plagued by corruption and inefficiency
Ashley Seager - The Guardian - 5 November 2009
The government's reliance on carbon trading schemes is inefficient and could cause a financial crisis similar to that seen with sub-prime mortgages, says Friends of the Earth Link - see video. The world's carbon trading markets growing complexity threatens another "sub-prime" style financial crisis that could again destabilise the global economy, campaigners warn today.
In a new report, Friends of the Earth says that to date "cap and trade" carbon markets have done almost nothing to reduce emissions but have been plagued by inefficiency and corruption that render them unfit for purpose.
As the world heads towards the Copenhagen climate summit, Britain and other developed countries want to see carbon trading expanded worldwide. The carbon market, mainly based in Europe, was worth $126bn in 2008 and is predicted to mushroom to $3.1tn by 2020 if a global carbon market takes off.
However, FoE fears that the area has been hijacked by speculators on the financial markets. Sarah-Jayne Clifton, the report's author, said: "The majority of the trade is carried out not between polluting industries and factories covered by carbon trading schemes, but by banks and investors who profit from speculation on the carbon markets - packaging carbon credits into increasingly complex financial products similar to the 'shadow finance' around sub-prime mortgages which triggered the recent economic crash."
The FoE claims that the first phase of the European emissions trading scheme between 2005 and 2007 failed. And the second phase, from 2008-2012, is likely to fail too, it said. FoE is calling on governments to use more reliable instruments such as carbon taxes, which are harder to avoid and can be effective at changing people's behaviour and reducing emissions.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We agree that domestic action by developed countries as well as public finance is essential to meet the challenge of climate change and? the UK is going all-out to get an ambitious, fair and effective deal. But carbon trading can also play a role, making it far more likely that we tackle dangerous climate change, get cost-effective emissions reductions and get money to the poorest countries of the world."
STANSTED AIR TRAFFIC FIGURES CONTINUE TO FALL
October traffic figures - BAA's airports
BAA traffic commentary: October 2009 - 9 November 2009
Traffic at all seven UK BAA airports fell 1.4%, the best performance since June 2008
Heathrow traffic up 1% on last year
Gatwick recorded first year on year growth since May 2008
Edinburgh grew for seventh consecutive month
Cargo tonnage recorded first monthly increase since August 2008
BAA's seven UK airports handled a total of 12.3 million passengers in October, a drop of 1.4% on the same month last year. Although still in decline, this was the best performance since June 2008 and there were some encouraging indicators of improvement in terms of passenger traffic at Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh; a strong upturn in airline load factors and a recovery in cargo traffic.
Among individual airports Heathrow recorded a 1.0% increase in passengers and Gatwick (up 1.8%) achieved a monthly increase for the first time since May 2008. Edinburgh continued its recent run of improvement with a 3.8% gain in October, on the back of the introduction of new low cost routes to Europe.
Airlines at Stansted have cut the number of seats offered by 11.7% compared to last October, and therefore passenger traffic fell 10.1%. Glasgow (down 9.2%), Aberdeen (down 8.3%) and Southampton (down 6.4%) also all continued to see passenger traffic fall.
Colin Matthews, BAA's chief executive, said: "This year has been one of the most challenging on record for the aviation industry, and the outlook remains difficult. Nevertheless, the figures across the group appear to be improving. Heathrow's traffic figures were particularly encouraging and come as a result of the airport being the hub of a strong international long-haul route network."
Long haul routes served by BAA's airports (excluding North Atlantic) saw a 4.6% increase in passenger numbers, including a 10% increase to the Middle East and 11.8% increase to India. European scheduled routes saw an increase of 1.1%. North Atlantic routes recorded a 14.5% cutback in the number of seats offered and in these circumstances it was notable that the drop in passengers carried was only 4.8%. UK Domestic routes recorded a similar experience with a decrease of passengers of only 5.3%, although there was a 12.5% cut in seats offered.
In total across the Group the number of air transport movements contracted by 6.0% and the number of seats by a similar amount. It was the 3.4 point gain in load factor (the percentage of seats filled) which helped the passenger total to decrease by only 1.4%.
Cargo tonnage at BAA's airports improved sharply on recent results to record the first monthly increase (up 1.5%) since August 2008. This has previously been seen as an early indicator of improving conditions in the wider economy, both in the UK and overseas.
RYANAIR AND EASYJET ROW AFTER IRISH AIRLINE SAYS IT COULD SCRAP PLANS TO BUY 200 MORE AIRCRAFT
A war of words has broken out between Ryanair and easyJet after the
Irish airline's chief executive said he may scrap its growth strategy
and return cash to shareholders
Graham Ruddick - Daily Telegraph - 2 November 2009
Ryanair and easyJet row after Irish airline says it could scrap plans to buy 200 more aircraft.
Michael O'Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said he 'sees no point in continuing to grow' and said he would halt talks with Boeing about delivering 200 new aircraft from 2013 unless an agreement is reached by December. He also threatened to defer or cancel orders for 110 other planes, including 15 of 48 scheduled for delivery in 2010. He said talks were proving difficult because of "internal turmoil" at the aerospace group.
However, his remarks prompted easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to question Ryanair's strategy. He said he had been warning for a year that Mr O'Leary's "do-or-die mission" to buy more aircraft "will end up in tears for his shareholders".
"My suggestion now, as he will not find enough passengers to fill his 100 additional aircraft, is to buy a piece of the Mojave Desert in California and start an aviation museum for his old aircraft," Sir Stelios said. "It could be another ancillary revenue stream alongside his charging for the loo."
A Ryanair spokesman hit back saying: "Stelios should stick to making pizzas and running high fare airlines, which he might know something about."
The verbal sparring broke out after Ryanair posted a 75pc increase in pre-tax profits to ?419m (£377m) for the half-year after fuel costs fell 42pc. Passenger numbers rose 15pc to 36.4m, but revenues fell 2pc to ?1.77bn as average fares dived 15pc. Paying out dividends to shareholders would mark a significant strategy change for Ryanair, which has focused on growth across Europe.
Mr O'Leary said: "We see no point in continuing to grow rapidly in a declining yield environment, where our main aircraft partner is unwilling to play its part in our cost reduction programme by passing on some of the enormous savings which Boeing have enjoyed both from suppliers and more efficient manufacturing." Boeing declined to comment.
The Ryanair boss also criticised British Airways' costs as the airline's cabin crew voted on whether to strike. "BA have got waterfalls in their head office," he said. "The only time we have waterfalls in the Ryanair office is when the toilet or the sink leaks."
OUR COMMENT: Does this inspire confidence in good service?
THE LAST WORD - FROM EASYJET
Stansted Airport: easyJet voted Best No Frills Airline and
Best Economy Class at British Travel 'Oscars'
Dunmow Broadcast - 6 November 2009
STANSTED Airport's low-cost airline easyJet was last night recognised as the Best No Frills Airline and Best Economy Class at the British Travel Awards, by voters in the UK's largest and most prestigious awards programme.
The British Travel Awards, considered as the 'Oscars' of the travel industry, received votes from over 90,000 of the travelling public.
easyJet's UK regional general manager, Paul Simmons, said: "To be voted the best Low Fares Airline for yet another year is a welcome reinforcement of how the public see easyJet. But even more special this year was the additional recognition of being voted as providing the Best Economy Class. In this category we were voted ahead of the usual suspects - the so called Legacy Airlines. And it shows just how main stream we now are."
NO PRIZES FOR THE BUS SERVICES!
Double waiting time for Stansted's buses
Tom Parkes - Gazette News - 6 November 2009
HOLIDAYMAKERS from North Essex will have to wait double the amount of time for buses home from Stansted Airport, after timetable changes.
Travel firm First reduced the frequency of its Stansted bus, via Marks Tey and Braintree, from one hour to every two hours, in March, claiming insufficient demand, in a move which caused problems for workers who commute to the airport.
In May, rival company Excel responded by launching its own service, pushing the frequency of buses offered between the two companies back to one an hour.
But now, an extension of First's X22 service, to take in Clacton, Frating and Elmstead Market, has resulted in a revised timetable, with First's buses leaving Stansted at the same time as Excel's. Both companies now have departures scheduled once every two hours, from 4am until 6pm.
Peter Kay, of Colchester Bus Users' Support Group, said: "This is hardly a benefit to the public, compared to the hourly service we had previously." He added the inconvenience of long waits at Stansted after flights might put people off taking buses.
There was also little price incentive for more than one person using the bus to go to the airport. Tickets from Colchester North Station with Excel cost £17 return, or £34 for two adults, while parking for a week at Stansted was £39.
CAA PREPARES FOR A MORE COMPETITIVE AIRPORTS MARKET
Report from CAA - 5 November 2009
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today begun a consultation on two projects designed to support the development of a more competitive airport market, following the sale of Gatwick Airport and the conclusion of the Competition Commission's inquiry into BAA's ownership of airports.
The first project involves the development of the CAA's approach to the analysis of the level of competitive pressures facing airports. The second will seek to identify alternative methods of regulating airports that reduce the risk that competition and investment are distorted.
These projects are being run simultaneously, and today's paper, 'Preparing for a more competitive airports sector', requests views from stakeholders on the objectives of both pieces of work and the process the CAA plans to complete them.
The work follows a series of developments in the airport industry which have shown that competition between airports occurs, and that where it does occur, it can act to constrain market power, sometimes negating the need for regulation. In the case of Manchester Airport, the development of competition led the Secretary of State for Transport to remove price cap regulation from the airport in March 2008.
Commenting on the start of the projects, the CAA's Director of Economic Regulation, Harry Bush, said, "There have been few times since the privatisation of BAA twenty years ago when there has been such change in the UK airports market. In addition to the impact of the economic downturn, there is uncertainty around future ownership given BAA's appeal of the Competition Commission's divestment instructions. However, the announcement of the sale of Gatwick represents a significant potential injection of competition into the airport market around London and there is the clear possibility of more to follow in the South East and Scotland."
"Alongside this, the Government's forthcoming decision on its Review of Economic Regulation is expected to propose a more flexible set of regulatory powers for the CAA and extended powers to apply competition law. This all means that now is the right time for us to start the necessary preparatory work, in consultation with stakeholders, to consider how we regulate airports and how we judge whether, and to what extent, they need to be regulated, so that the right incentives are created for efficient investment and that passengers benefit from increased competition."
The intention to take forward the two projects announced today was originally stated in the CAA's price control decision for Stansted airport, in March 2009.
The two projects are expected to run for approximately 18 months. Any decisions flowing from these projects would be made against the then existing statutory duties, based on evidence available at that time and following appropriate consultation.
OUR COMMENT: What about the interests of local residents?
STANSTED AIRPORT OWNER BAA ACCUSES CAMPAIGN GROUP OF GRABBING "CHEAP HEADLINES" OVER LOW FLIGHTS ROW
Saffron Walden Reporter - 4 November 2009
STANSTED Airport owners BAA have accused the Stop Stansted Expansion group of trying to "grab cheap headlines" during a bitter row over aircraft flights patterns.
On Monday morning, SSE revealed that it had carried out research into aircraft flying lower over The Hallingburys, Hatfield Broad Oak and Hatfield Heath, and that it had discovered the cost-cutting measure was saving just 2p per passenger.
Noise complaints from homeowners have risen over the last few months following a decision by airlines to lower take-off angles in a bid to save fuel and cash. But SSE campaign director, Carol Barbone, said that the savings only amount to £2.65 worth of savings per flight. If the average number of passengers on each flight was 135 passengers - the saving is 2p per passenger.
Mrs Barbone criticised the airport owners for failing to act and stop airlines flying lower. She said: "If ever proof was needed that BAA and the Stansted airlines are interested only in profit maximisation regardless of the interests of local residents, then here we have it - and all for the sake of making an extra tuppence per passenger."
"BAA is fond of quoting the ICAO rules and the Government's Air Transport White Paper when it suits its purposes to do so. BAA should now be prepared to apply the same standards to itself and its airline customers."
However, BAA criticised the group and said that the airlines are operating within Government rules. A spokesman said: "As we've said many times before, the airlines are doing absolutely nothing wrong. They are fully compliant with both UK and international standards and there has been no breach of the Department for Transport's noise abatement rules set for the airport."
"This procedure is not unique to Stansted and for SSE to suggest that there has been a breach in regulations is misleading and wrong - it's just their attempt, once again, to grab cheap headlines."
OUR COMMENT: Once again, what about the interests of local residents?
MP URGES ADEQUATE AIRPORT NOISE CONTROLS
About.my.area.co.uk - 28 October 2009
David Taylor MP is urging North West Leicestershire District Council not to accept inadequate noise controls if they finally approve East Midlands Airport's runway extension.
Next week's meeting of the Council's Planning Committee (3 November) will be considering a report from planning officers on the proposed runway extension which concludes that "in principle, the proposed development is acceptable and, subject to the imposition of conditions, would not result in unacceptable environmental impacts."
It is therefore "recommended that planning permission be granted subject to conditions (including in respect of the extent of the 55dBLAeq8hr night noise contour), and subject to Section 106 obligations securing the enhanced aircraft noise mitigation measures (increased grant award for properties within the 55dBLAeq8hr night noise contour) as outlined in the Airport Masterplan."
David Taylor MP said: "The noise controls envisaged by NWLDC are nowhere near stringent enough. The Planning Committee must hold fire on this until a proper scheme is committed. No wonder that shocked local campaigners have dubbed this flawed proposal a 'watchdog with rubber teeth'.
"Where are the stringent noise controls which local residents demand? Where is the policing of noise? Where is the adequate monitoring? Why is the generally accepted night noise level in the UK of 48dB not being applied? These issues must be addressed before permission is granted."
BRITAIN SET TO MISS 2020 CARBON REDUCTION TARGET
ENDS Europe DAILY - 27 October 2009
The UK will miss a legally binding target to cut its greenhouse gas
emissions by 34% relative to 1990 levels by 2020 unless the
government implements policies to increase renewables in heat supply
and transport, analysts said on Tuesday.
Britain will meet its "carbon budgets" for 2008-12 and 2013-17, but
not for 2018-22, according to a report by Cambridge Econometrics.
This means it will not achieve its 34% reduction target. The first
carbon budget a five-year plan to reduce emissions, was announced in April.
The analysts predict that the UK industry, especially the power
sector, will have to buy around 20 million EU carbon allowances per
year from 2018-22 to meet an emission cap imposed by Europe's
emission trading scheme (ETS).
The industry will emit more than it should because renewables will
only account for 15% of electricity generation by 2020, or half of
what the government aspires to, the analysts say. This represents a
5% share of renewables in final energy consumption, a third of the
UK's target under EU legislation.
Concrete policies to promote renewables in heat supply and transport
are critical, the analysts say. They assume there will be no new
nuclear capacity installed by 2020 due to the absence of "firm
policies" on this now. "Fossil fuels will remain important in meeting
the UK's electricity needs," they add.
The UK will meet its 16% reduction target for non-ETS emissions by
2020. These emissions will be below their caps during the periods
2008-12 and 2013-17, but they will significantly increase during the
period 2018-22. "This is because the recession has only a
once-and-for-all impact by reducing energy use over the short term,"
the analysts say.
Tuesday's report reaffirmed that the UK will miss a self-imposed
carbon reduction goal of 20% over 1990 levels by 2010 despite a predicted 7% drop in
emissions in 2008-10 due to the current recession. But the country is
on track to meet its Kyoto target of a 12.5% cut by 2008-12.
OUR COMMENT: For those who feel strongly that MORE ACTION is needed, join THE WAVE in London on Saturday December 5th and make your views known to your MP and to the Government.
DO TORIES 'GET' CLIMATE CHANGE?
Greenpeace Blog posted by Christian - 30 October 2009
So, the top ten tory bloggers are all climate sceptics - www.nextleft.org/2009/10/help-can-anyone-find-tory-blogger-who.html. So what? Everyone knows the internet provides a space for people to loudly declare their views in strident tones, blissfully and wilfully unaware of what have been termed 'reality-based arguments' - in this case the consensus weight of informed scientific opinion
But hang on. These aren't just random bloggers. This is the tory grassroots. The top ten tory blogs include people like Tim Montgomery, who founded influential tory website Conservative Home, Iain Dale, who sits at the heart of the conservative grassroots, Tory MEP Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell MP, who defended one widely ridiculed book claiming to debunk climate change on the grounds that it, er, had a lot of footnotes. Hmmm.
This is a face of the conservative party that stands in sharp contrast to the often strong words on green issues we've heard from David Cameron. For a while the conservatives were leading the charge over the environment. Back in 2007 Cameron, surrounded by boats and climbing equipment, gave a speech in our warehouse to launch the Conservative policy on decentralised energy. What we heard from the Tories then was "vote blue go green." They pushed the green agenda in the face of Labour indifference and obstruction, and it seemed like they actually 'got' climate change.
But now, with political power within their grasp, a lot hangs on how Cameron deals with a grassroots that - online or offline - isn't too keen on green policies. On one hand there are some positive headline policies. Greg Clark, the shadow energy secretary, has talked about setting carbon budgets, partially limiting emissions from coal and even pushing for more renewable power, though he remains shy of committing to meet the UK's 2020 renewables target.
Meanwhile the shadow transport secretary has made canning the third runway at Heathrow a centrepiece of policy, and expressed opposition to new runways at Stansted and Gatwick, though is shy of talking about her intentions for the aviation sector as a whole. Cameron has personally stated his opposition to Heathrow and his support for a standard limiting emissions from new coal plants to no more than a modern gas plant.
All these things would obviously be really good steps forward if they are delivered, even if there might be a touch of devilry in the detail to clarify. But with a grassroots that is less receptive to environmental issues than the leadership might want, we know that any progressive policies the leadership might push for are going to see serious backlash from the wider conservative constituency.
That could make it difficult for the tories to sustain a green agenda, and it also means that we're going to have to continue to pore over the details of tory environment policies, such as their coal policy, checking them against the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change as a minimum test, to make sure they match up to the headline claims. Again, it will all be about how Cameron handles it.
Strong leadership from him would make it easy to quell any fears about resistance from the wider party - but would require a bit of a change of gear.
On one hand the front bench team have been quick to defend their policies when they are called into doubt by their colleagues. Shadow business secretary Ken Clark was forced to immediately retract unguarded comments opposing onshore wind power, and the position on Heathrow has been restated firmly whenever it is questioned amongst the ranks. This gives some reassurance against what otherwise are worrying signs.
On the other hand, it is clear that the green agenda is not one fully embedded in all departments. Over conference season we saw an almost complete lack of attention to environmental issues. One small but telling example is George Osborne who as shadow chancellor is the potential controller of the Treasury and key to either driving or blocking a green Tory agenda. He didn't mention the environment or climate change once in his conference speech. David Cameron and Greg Clark have both since made green speeches, but this just shows that it's only away from their wider party membership that the green agenda gets prominence.
Times have changed, even in a couple of years. Back when David Cameron was speaking in our direct action warehouse, the political landscape was pretty different. Labour were intractable on new coal, and busy working through a series of terrible energy secretaries, each obsessed with pushing the dirtiest possible technologies. But as Labour starts getting to grips with the climate agenda, albeit with blots like the Heathrow decision staining their tattered copy book, there's now more political space for any party to be pushing ambitious plans to decarbonise our economy.
As an organization, we don't support one political party or another. We just want to see the strongest action on the environment possible that cuts our carbon emissions, looks out for those affected by climate change, and cleans up on the benefits of early action. So we'll have to wait and see how tension between the Tory leadership and grassroots on climate change pans out.
SHORTLY WE SHALL REACH OUR CRUISING ALTITUDE
THAT IS NOT AN ANNOUNCEMENT - RYANAIR
Financial Times - 2 November 2009
Investors expect to hear from chief executive Michael O'Leary. The low-cost airline maintained its rate of climb through the recession clouds to report an 80 per cent surge in September half-year earnings. But it could throttle back to a more gradual rate of growth.
In Mr O'Leary's latest attempt to drive a hard bargain with counterparties, he has given Boeing until the end of the year to cut prices on planes ordered - or he will rationalise routes and instead use the cash to pay a maiden dividend. He tried a similar tactic with BAA, owner of Ryanair's UK base at Stansted, earlier this year. Lower airport fees, he barked, or he would cut winter capacity and move planes elsewhere - something he would have done anyway.
Whether Boeing executives pay attention is not the point. They are only a prop in a carefully staged message to investors to expect slower passenger growth. If Boeing comes up trumps, so much the better. Even if it does not, Ryanair will keep chiselling at unit cost reductions and curb passenger volume growth from 14 per cent to about 8 per cent over the next three years.
Although falling fuel costs helped, first half profits increased despite a 17 per cent reduction in fares. Ryanair will cut them a further 20 per cent in the second half to combat passenger lethargy, so full-year profit will be at the low end of its earlier ?200m-?300m guidance. Even so, the 5 per cent fall in Ryanair's share price on Monday reflects investor concern over the impact of the downturn on the airline's gravity-defying profitability.
The greater fear, however, is what Ryanair's caution spells for less agile British Airways, whose shares fell by 3 per cent ahead of first half results on Friday. The loss-making airline's urgent need to shed costs could yet be undermined by a damaging cabin crew strike. Mr O'Leary's actions are aimed at boosting profitability; British Airways' are about basic survival.
TRANQUILLITY IS 'SUBJECTIVE', RULES GOVERNMENT
Flights over national parks will not be capped because tranquillity
is a "subjective" concept, the Government has decided
Stephen Adams - Daily Telegraph - 27 October 2009
Replying to a call from the House of Commons' own Transport Committee for flights over such sensitive areas to be limited, ministers said that to do so would be "impractical".
"The Government recognises that tranquillity is becoming an increasingly important issue, particularly for those living in rural areas. But 'tranquillity' is a subjective quality and as such can mean different things to different people - what may be seen as intrusion by one may be acceptable to another."
The response, from the Department for Transport (DfT), continued: "While Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks are afforded certain statutory protection this does not extend to precluding overflight by aircraft. In practice it would be impractical to prevent widespread overflying of AONBs, or of National Parks without affecting reasonable levels of access to our airports." It also found that "aircraft noise is just one factor in the equation" of tranquillity.
In July the Transport Committee has urged that noise levels over national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) be contained and the number of flights limited, in a report called Use of Airspace. The MPs said of the issue: "Tranquillity is a key factor in sensitive areas such as National Parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Current guidance appears to allow unchecked increases in aviation activity over these areas."
Shropshire County Council recorded a 21 per cent increase in air traffic over the Shropshire Hills tranquillity after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) made changes in March 2006, the report noted. In January 2008 the CAA also redirected some flight paths over parts of the New Forest National Park, drawing "strong criticism" from the Campaign for National Parks.
The Council to Protect Rural England, which has created 'tranquillity maps', to highlight the threat to Britain's last areas of peace and quiet accused the Government of sidestepping genuine concerns about the loss of peaceful areas. Ralph Smyth, the CPRE's senior transport campaigner, said Government departments routinely come up with objective measures of other life qualities, after aggregating people's views.
The CPRE itself had undertaken rigorous work to gauge tranquillity objectively, he argued. "The Government's response seems to be rather dismissive of the work that we have done," Mr Smyth noted.
He added: "In national parks, there aren't many other factors affecting tranquillity, that's why having planes flying overhead is particularly intrusive." Capping flight numbers over protected areas might be impractical "if they are committed to increasing flights every year, for evermore, as they seem to be."
In its response, the DfT also said that the Department for Food and Rural Affairs was "in the process of developing a national noise strategy which will aim to manage noise in the context of sustainable development".
OUR COMMENT: Most Politics is subjective too!
MORE SUBJECTIVE THOUGHT
CAMPAIGNERS SPEAK OUT ON FLIGHTPATH DELAY
Richard Cornwall - Ipswich Evening Star - 27 October 2009
SUFFOLK: CAMPAIGNERS have today spoken out after air traffic bosses revealed it will be at least a year before they bring forward fresh proposals to change flightpaths over the county.
Despite mounting concern and frustration at the number of passenger jet planes criss-crossing communities, air traffic management company NATS says it will not carry out a fresh consultation until September 2010 or after.
The previous proposals, which included creating holding stacks for Stansted near Newmarket and over 37 villages between Hadleigh and Stowmarket, generated thousands of objections.
Carol Barbone, campaign director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said they would be asking NATS to ensure a new consultation fully considered all options. "In view of this latest postponement, NATS should, as a matter of urgency, look for other ways to fully implement continuous descent approaches for Stansted and thereby reduce the noise impacts upon many local communities to the west of the airport," she said.
"We will also be asking NATS to ensure that any new consultation - if and when it ever does resurface - fully examines the option of offshore stacking and that it takes account of the second runway proposals for Stansted."
Alex Bristol, NATS' general manager for strategy and investment, said that because of a downturn in air traffic levels it was not so urgent to review the flightpaths. "We are continuing to develop alternatives following the feedback that was received during the first consultation that, where possible, address some of the concerns that were raised at that time," he added.
"Doing nothing is not a long term option if we are to further enhance safety in the area and we anticipate bringing forward some smaller changes from the proposals while we continue work on the overall design."
More than 1,200 planes currently cross Suffolk every day and the number could 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 expansion or the second runway plan.
The campaign wants a full review of pollution being caused by the jets 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.
PLANS FOR THIRD RUNWAY AT HEATHROW HANG IN BALANCE
A High Court review in February could force ministers to reconsult
on giving permission for any expansion at Heathrow
Tim Webb - The Guardian - 30 October 2009
In 1998, the government began a review of its policy on airports. It took five years and 13 months of consultation to conclude what everyone knew already: that the UK's airports, and those in the south-east in particular, were bursting at the seams. The resulting white paper said that additional runways should be built at Heathrow and Stansted to ease the pressure.
Next February, a coalition of campaigners opposing airport expansion hope to drive the final nail in the coffin of the Heathrow expansion plan, more than a decade after it was first conceived. The High Court will stage what lawyers describe as a "rolled-up judicial review". The three-day hearing could force ministers to consult again on the most contentious aspects of building another runway, such as the impact of noise pollution on local residents or the resulting rise in carbon emissions.
By the time they're done, the country, in all likelihood, will have voted in a Conservative government that has promised to ban the construction of new runways, at Heathrow and everywhere else. No wonder a despairing BAA, the owner of Heathrow, has decided not to submit its planning application for the third runway until after the general election. Local campaigners are also hopeful of blocking similar moves to build new runways at Stansted and Gatwick, or at the very least of kicking the plans into the very long grass.
Welcome to airports planning, UK-style: toothless policy statements, countless consultations and legal challenges, all adding up to zero progress for those advocating expansion - or victory to those campaigners opposing it. Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend, the air transport consultancy, gloomily predicts that the current political and economic landscape makes it unlikely that any new runway will be completed in the south-east in less than two decades.
Last month, BAA finally announced it had sold Gatwick, the UK's second largest airport after Heathrow, to investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners. BAA had already been ordered to sell the airport, along with Stansted and either Edinburgh and Glasgow airport, following a three-year review by the Competition Commission.
The watchdog argued that the company's ownership of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted constituted a monopoly which had resulted in severe congestion, because BAA had little incentive to spend billions expanding the airports when it could ramp up landing fees for airlines on the existing squeezed capacity it already owned instead. The watchdog also said that the monopoly had resulted in poor customer service because the alternatives for passengers to use other airports not owned by BAA were limited.
BAA used to boast that Gatwick's single runway was the world's busiest, handling more than 32 million people every year. It's a legacy GIP will be stuck with for some time to come.
In 1979, in return for the go-ahead to build the north terminal at Gatwick, BAA promised West Sussex county council that it would not build a second runway before 2019. GIP insists that the moratorium is legally binding. The fund also claims that the issue of a second runway is not on its agenda, not least because there is neither Conservative nor Labour party support for it. But, if this were to change, there is a strong economic case for a second runway, particularly if the Heathrow and Stansted growth plans continue to be stymied.
In the meantime, GIP says that it will embark on an £850m investment programme to overhaul the airport's shabby terminals, which will allow it to handle more than 40 million passengers a year.
BAA now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of potentially being forced to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow, while looking on nervously as Gatwick's new owners expand the newly acquired airport. BAA insists that whatever the Commission may say, Heathrow is not a competitor to Gatwick as the two airports serve two different kinds of passenger.
Gatwick traditionally was the UK's base for charter flights but as this market has shrunk, a large share of its traffic comes from low-cost airlines such as Easyjet, its biggest user. While Gatwick operates long-haul flights, it operates on a point-to-point basis, rather than a "hub" like Heathrow, where over a quarter of its passengers are transferring flights. But if Heathrow does lose out on a third runway, and Gatwick expands, the two airports will come more directly into competition. Indeed, BAA has been warning for years that without a third runway, Heathrow will cease to be an important hub airport for transfers.
Whether there is the political will to build a runway at Gatwick, rather than Heathrow, is not clear. The Competition Commission questioned the government's decision to favour new runways at Heathrow and Stansted, instead of Gatwick. Because Gatwick is further away from London than Heathrow, there is also likely to be less fierce opposition to expansion from local residents.
Morris says that while it makes more financial sense to build a runway at Heathrow to protect its hub status, it would be pragmatic to focus on Gatwick. "If we are looking at a 20-year war of attrition to get a third runway at Heathrow, it might not be optimal to build a second runway at Gatwick but at least it's more likely we can get on with it." He also thinks London mayor Boris Johnson's plan to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary, instead of a third runway at Heathrow, lacks the political support from either party to get off the ground.
John Stewart from Hacan, the group lobbying against Heathrow expansion, is keeping his fingers crossed that the Tories win the next election and believes their moratorium on new runways would hold for the duration of their first term of office at the very least. Exacting emissions targets are also incompatible with expanding airports, he argues.
Either way, whether Heathrow, Gatwick or neither are expanded, another dreaded review is certain. The government's consultation on a third runway at Heathrow last year was based on its 2003 white paper, which pre-dated carbon emission targets. The paper also forecast huge growth in air travel demand, based on the assumption that fares would keep falling.
Given high oil prices and increasing environmental taxes - the government's air passenger duty increases this week - this is clearly absurd. Traditionally, economists forecast that air traffic would increase at double the rate of GDP. Morris says demand is now more likely to rise at the same rate of economic growth as a result of rising fares.
With the UK still in recession and the weak pound - against the euro in particular - also discouraging air travel, the clamour to expand the UK's airports has temporarily quietened. But once the economy recovers, so will demand and congestion at the south-east's airports will get even worse, even if new high-speed rail links are built.
The alternative to incurring the wrath of environmentalists and local residents by building more runways is to price people out of air travel. Neither option is popular.
The next government will have some tough decisions to make.
TCN SECOND CONSULTATION POSTPONED
UNTIL AT LEAST SEPTEMBER 2010
NATs Online - 24 October 2009
NATS, the UK's leading airspace navigation service provider, has announced today that there will be no second Terminal Control North (TCN) consultation on revised air routes until at least September 2010.
The decision to postpone a second consultation follows the feedback received during last year's consultation and development of alternatives that, where possible, address the concerns that were raised at the time.
Alex Bristol, NATS' General Manager Strategy and Investment, said: "The downturn in air traffic levels internationally since the first TCN consultation means there is less urgency than there was originally for this development. We are continuing to develop alternatives following the feedback that was received during the first consultation that, where possible, address some of the concerns that were raised at that time."
"Doing nothing is not a long term option if we are to further enhance safety in the TCN area and we anticipate bringing forward some smaller changes from the TCN proposal while we continue work on the overall design."
Since the 2008 consultation changes have been made to London City departure routes; this was required by the Civil Aviation Authority in order that the routes meet international standards for the jet aircraft now using that airport. This was covered in last year's consultation.
Alex Bristol added: "We always said that we wanted to hear people's views on the TCN proposals. We have listened and we continue to work on changes and developments as a result of the feedback that we received during last year's consultation."
OUR COMMENT: See Statement by SSE
MICHAEL O'LEARY AIRS HIS VIEWS
GIVE LONDON'S AIR PASSENGERS A REAL CHOICE
Michael O'Leary - Evening Standard - 22 October 2009
BRITAIN'S tourism industry has been in decline for over two years now thanks to a combination of high and increasing airport charges and the regressive Airport Passenger Duty, introduced by Gordon Brown. This is set to increase on 1 November, even though it has proved to be a doublebarrelled shot in the foot for tourism, traffic, jobs and the economy. Passenger numbers at airports run by the UK's biggest operator, BAA, collapsed by eight million in the past year - at the same time that Ryanair grew passenger numbers by seven million. The UK is now on course to lose 10 million passengers in 2009.
Yesterday's confirmation that BAA has reached an agreement to sell Gatwick airport should be celebrated as a victory for consumers, airport users and London tourism. The sale is just the first step in the much-needed break-up of BAA's airport monopoly in order to restore competition and customer service.
Last year the Competition Commission called for the break-up of BAA and the sale of Gatwick and Stansted, as well as one of BAA's Scottish airports, to reverse the years of damage done by the operator's high costs and its contempt for airline users and passengers.
However, in an attempt to retain control of the London market and protect its high airport charges, BAA is disputing the Competition Commission's recommended sale of Stansted. Ryanair fully supports the Competition Commission's findings and believes that the sale of Stansted must take place as soon as possible.
BAA has abused its power in recent years, wasting vast sums building complicated facilities that its airline customers neither wanted nor needed. The Competition Commission's extensive investigation revealed that BAA's airport monopoly has been bad for competition and bad for consumers.
It also conclusively proved that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is a hopelessly incompetent regulator which has always put the needs of BAA above those of airport users. This week Ryanair demonstrated to the Competition Appeal Tribunal that BAA inflates its costs, so that the inept CAA regularly allows passenger charges to rise - rewarding BAA's waste, mismanagement and incompetence.
The future of British air transport and tourism depends on the growth of low-fare air travel to and from London's airports. Regional airports all over the UK are now lowering costs to attract more low-fare routes and tourists. Yet BAA couldn't care less about attracting more passengers, because it is rewarded by the CAA regardless of whether traffic rises or falls.
Ryanair has made a written offer to BAA Stansted to double its passenger traffic over a five-year period. BAA rejected this proposal out of hand, because it doesn't need or want traffic growth. Instead, group director Harry Bush and the other clowns at the CAA will reward BAA with passenger charge increases as Stansted's traffic declines. This is not the real world: BAA is a monopoly rewarded with price increases to compensate it for its failure to stimulate growth.
This is why Ryanair, and all other airlines at Stansted, are strongly campaigning for the break-up of BAA. Competition is the only way to ensure that consumer interests are protected from the damage inflicted by years of this high-cost airport monopoly.
OUR COMMENT: He ain't seen nothing yet - if effective climate change measures begin to bite.
STANSTED NOW ON THE BLOCK BUT
RYANAIR'S CHIEF COULD BE A STICKING POINT
Pilita Clark, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 22 October 2009
First Gatwick, now Stansted. Yesterday's £1.5bn sale of Gatwick is only the first of three such deals expected in the UK over the next two-and-a-half years. All have arisen because competition authorities deemed BAA, the country's biggest airport operator, has too much market power, an argument airlines and other airport users agree with.
Until yesterday, BAA's seven airports included Heathrow, the country's largest; Gatwick, the second largest; Stansted, a big base for Ryanair, Europe's largest no-frills airline; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton.
In March, after a two-year investigation, the Competition Commission ruled that BAA should sell three airports within two years: Gatwick, Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
BAA put Gatwick on the block the previous year in an attempt to meet competition concerns. Gatwick was always regarded as the most appealing to suitors. It was bigger with broader transport links and a better passenger catchment area.
And there was something else: it did not have Michael O'Leary, the outspoken chief executive of Ryanair, a vocal critic of BAA's charges and poor services. As a number of people involved in the Gatwick deal said, Ryanair is an issue for any potential buyer of Stansted. "Basically, do you want to be the next object of public ridicule from Michael O'Leary?" said one. "It's an important part of due diligence," said another.
BAA this week began appealing against the Competition Commission's March ruling. If it wins, it hopes the commission will have to reconsider its whole ruling. If it loses, it hopes the months taken up by the appeal will mean it ends up selling Stansted and a Scottish airport in a more amenable economic and financial climate.
GATWICK TO GET SECOND RUNWAY IN £1.5BN SALE
Robert Lea - This is London - 21 October 2009
Gatwick airport is set for a multi-million pound makeover after it was sold today for £1.5 billion. The new owners are planning to challenge Heathrow for budget passengers with a major overhaul of services and new routes to long-haul destinations.
Under the new plans Global Infrastructure Partners are also set to call for a second runway, increasing flight capacity by 40 per cent.
Gatwick, which handles 32 million passengers every year, is the busiest single-runway airport in the world. The new moves would take the airport to a point where it would handle 45 million passengers a year. Under a long-time agreement with Gatwick locals, a new runway cannot be built at the airport until 2019.
However, given long planning lead times, it is understood the airport's new owner will begin the planning process now to deliver a new runway as soon after 2019 as possible. That will cause a storm of protest across the South, from householders blighted by more airline noise to environmentalists attempting to curtail the carbon-intensive activities of the aviation industry.
Global Infrastructure Partners is a joint venture between the American conglomerate General Electric and the international bank Credit Suisse.
GIP bought the business traffic-oriented London City Airport in Docklands for £700 million two years ago.
It is understood GIP plans to shake up Gatwick and make it the airport of choice for holidaymakers by keeping its biggest airline, easyJet, and all the European package tour airlines but also developing more far-flung international destinations.
Gatwick was put up for sale by Spanish-owned BAA after the Competition Commission ruled its ownership of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted gave it too much market power - as it had more than 90 per cent of the London airline passenger market.
"Gatwick and its people have long been a central part of BAA," said BAA chief executive Colin Matthews. "But BAA is changing and today's announcement marks a new beginning for both Gatwick and BAA. BAA will focus on improving Heathrow and our other airports."
BAA is challenging the Competition Commission's ruling that it must also sell Stansted and one of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports.
BAA DESPERATE TO HANG ON TO STANSTED AIRPORT
AFTER SELLING GATWICK
Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 21 October 2009
BAA bosses have this week been battling to save Stansted Airport from a forced sale - after agreeing to sell Gatwick. The operator began giving evidence on Monday in a case being heard by a Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
The hearing follows a Competition Commission ruling in March that BAA must auction three of the seven UK airports it runs - London airports Gatwick and Stansted plus either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
It was announced today, Wednesday, October 21, that the operator has agreed to sell Gatwick, the UK's second busiest airport, to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) for a fee of £1.51bn but remains determined to hang on to Stansted and its Scottish airports.
In documents already lodged with the CAT, BAA has outlined its argument that the commission's decision is flawed because of "apparent bias" arising from a link between a member of the ruling panel and one of the organisations interested in buying the airports.
As well as arguing that the commission had a conflict of interest, BAA believes it did not properly take into account the effect the recession would have on the sales of the airports.
In making its ruling, the commission decided that the lack of competition in the South East - where BAA operates its flagship, Heathrow, as well as Gatwick and Stansted - and in Scotland was bad for both passengers and airlines.
At the start of this year, BAA announced its annual profits had fallen by 18.4 per cent. It reported a profit of £582m before tax and interest in 2008, down from £713m in 2007, as the number of travellers passing through its UK airports fell by 2.7 per cent overall.
The CAT hearing was expected to end last night (Wed). A ruling on the appeal is expected in the next few months.
BAA OFFERS TO BUY HOMES IN RUNWAY ZONE
Charlene Mitchell - Uxbridge Gazette - 21 October 2009
BAA has announced its offer to purchase properties under threat of the third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Today BAA wrote to residents under threat of the third runway offering to buy properties within the area designated under its Property Market Support Bond scheme. This offer is open to residents for the next 12 months.
On his website, Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell, said he has been pressing BAA for months to implement the Bond Scheme to assist residents who are trapped in unsuitable accommodation and unable to sell their properties on the open market.
He said: "Two weeks ago I met representatives from BAA with Rob Fodder, an example of a local resident unable to sell his property and trapped with his growing family in overcrowded conditions. Last week I also tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for action to resolve this issue. I welcome BAA's announcement because it will help local families who are suffering from being trapped in unsuitable accommodation because they cannot sell."
"Over the next week I am convening a public meeting for local residents to discuss the implications of this decision. In addition over the coming weeks we will be convening via the local law centre a series of smaller seminars with lawyers to provide advice to local residents on the details of the scheme and the process from here on."
"I believe that the third runway will never be built but before we can kill off this runway threat once and for all we need to ensure that families affected by blight are properly protected."
STANSTED COMPANY BRANCHES OUT TO PROVIDE
RECESSION-BUSTING JET HIRING SERVICE
Dunmow Broadcast - 18 September 2009
A STANSTED-BASED lettings and property management company is making jet-hiring as easy as hiring a limousine.
Airport Lettings Stansted has been established at the Essex hub for 10 years but has recently formed a new wing of the business as an aircraft broker - London Jet Charter (JLC). The idea behind the new venture is to offer everyday folk a jet-set lifestyle at affordable prices.
Managing director Terry Farthing said: "In these credit crunch days, everyone could do with a bit of cheering up and with their affordable choices, now everyone can 'live the dream' for a day or two!"
"Hiring a jet or a helicopter would be an excellent way of transport for a special day-out or as the day-out itself. If you are planning on a romantic gesture of a lunch-in-Paris for someone special, why not do it in style? Perhaps you are organising a golf match or ski trip - travel in luxury with your friends."
A nudge in the company's favour is its "hassle free" promise - the check-in process at the airport takes as little as three minutes. JLC also caters for businesses in several languages.
"You can decide when you want to fly and where you want to fly. Our fleet of helicopters can even take you to your exact destination without changing countless vehicles which proves to be very time and cost effective for businesses."
He added: "When the thought of hours of searching for scheduled flights, never-ending queues, snail-paced check-in procedures, long-waits at the soulless airports and getting cramped into aircrafts with total strangers brings you down, all you have to remember is that London Jet Charter is at work to take you high."
OUR COMMENT: Is the journey REALLY necessary?
A REMINDER TO ALL
UN CONFIRMS UPWARD TREND IN RICH NATIONS' EMISSIONS
ENDS Europe DAILY - 22 October 2009
Industrialised nations' greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1% in 2007,
confirming a continuing growth since 2000, according to the latest UN
annual data released on Wednesday. Emissions increased by 3% between
2000 and 2007.
Emissions in the 40 countries with reporting obligations under the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were about 4% below
1990 levels. Emissions from countries with Kyoto targets remain
roughly the same at about 16% below the 1990 baseline.
The UNFCCC data confirms a 4.3% emission reduction in the EU-15.
Emissions from old EU member states will fall to 3.6% below 1990
levels by 2010, according to European Environment Agency predictions. Emissions in the region currently stand at 5% below the baseline.
Earlier this year, the European agency said EU-27 emissions were down
9.3% in 2007. The UNFCCC data does not combine emissions from both old and newer EU member states. As previously reported, Spain is the furthest away from its Kyoto target in the EU-15.
Outside the EU, emissions continued to increase in 2007. The
strongest increase was in Turkey (+12%). Emissions in Canada and the
US were up by 4% and 1.4% respectively. Australia's emissions
increased by 1.3%. Japan's emissions rose by 2.4%, according to the
UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said industrialised countries' emissions
remained "worrying" despite an expected momentary decline because of
the economic downturn. The data "underscore, once again, the urgent
need to seal a comprehensive, fair and effective climate change deal"
The UNFCCC also released a report on Kyoto credits traded by
industrialised countries in 2008, including AAUs
These countries have 55 billion tonnes of credits in their accounts, some of which were traded last year. Trading will significantly increase in the coming years, the
BRITISH PUBLIC REFUSE TO FLY LESS
TO REDUCE THEIR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Adam Vaughan - The Guardian - 5 October 2009
The extent of the public's refusal to fly less often has been revealed by research that suggests attempts to slash greenhouse gas emissions from aviation will struggle to get off the ground.
Fewer than one in five people are trying to reduce the number of flights they take for environmental reasons, warns the study from Loughborough University. The findings come after the aviation industry vowed to halve emissions by 2050 and the government's climate advisers called for a deal at UN climate talks in Copenhagen to cap emissions from flying.
The Propensity to Fly study also reveals the vast majority of the British public would rather cut energy use at home than go without flying for a year. While 88% of participants said they were willing or very willing to "reduce how much energy I use in my home throughout the year" only 26% said the same when asked if they would "not fly in the next 12 months".
Research from Exeter University last year said "green living" idealists who recycle and save energy at home are some of the worst offenders.
Dr Tim Ryley, who led the Loughborough research, said: "While some people are willing to fly less and others are willing to pay more to fly to offset emissions, they remain the minority. It is cost and not environmental consequences that deter people from flying more often."
Asked what increase in air fares would deter them from flying short-haul, nearly four in five (79%) said a £50 rise would make them fly less often. With just a £10 increase in short-haul fares to destinations such as Paris and Rome, only 21% would probably take fewer flights.
Air passenger duty, the government's tax on air fares, is changing to take account of distance later this year, with the duty on short-haul flights rising from £10 to £11 in November and £12 in 2010. The increase in long-haul trips will be higher, with economy class to the US rising from £40 to £60 in 2010 and flights of more than 6,000 miles - such as London to Sydney ? jumping from £55 to £85 next year.
The research by Loughborough suggests the government's tax rises, which transport secretary Andrew Adonis says will cover the cost of the UK's contribution to global warming, will only deter a small minority of British passengers. From 2012 airlines will have to join the European emissions trading scheme (ETS) - designed to reduce carbon emissions - which the EC predicts will see short-haul fares rise by an additional ?6 (£5.50) and ?9 (£8.26).
While most people said they were unwilling to pay more for their flight to offset the environmental cost, an increasing number - 32% in 2009 compared to 19% in 2007 - of participants agreed that passengers should pay more to account for aviation's environmental impact. The study included four surveys between 2007 and 2009, with sample sizes of between 300 and 615 people.
Joss Garman, a former Plane Stupid activist and now a campaigner for Greenpeace, said the results reflected a lack of alternatives to flying: "Ultimately it isn't surprising people want to cling on to their flights when they're denied the choice of affordable, low-carbon alternatives." Whilst research like this does underline how divorced the public, like the political, conversation has become from the science, equally there's polling showing the majority oppose a third runway at Heathrow."
Although the recession has dented air travel numbers, which peaked at 239 million passengers through UK airports in 2007 but dropped to 234.2m in 2008, Ryley said growth was expected to return as the economy recovered and Adonis forecasts a doubling to about 500m passengers a year in 2030.
In August, the government announced a plan for a new high-speed rail network to reduce short-haul flights, just a month after the secretary for energy and climate change, Ed Miliband, defended mass air travel on the grounds that deep emissions cuts would be made in other sectors to meet UK carbon targets. "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. I don't want to have a situation where only rich people can afford to fly," Miliband told the Guardian.
Last month the government's committee on climate change warned that if growth in flights was left unchecked, emissions from global aviation could account for 15% to 20% of all CO2 produced in 2050. While total greenhouse gas emissions from the EU fell by 3% between 1990 and 2002, emissions from international aviation increased by nearly 70%.
ERA OF CHEAP, EASY OIL IS OVER, WARNS STUDY
The world could start to run out of oil in the next ten years, sparking soaring energy prices and a rush for even more polluting fossil fuels, an influential new study by the UK Energy Research Council has warned.
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent - Daily Telegraph - 8 October 2009
The exact date of "peak oil" - when the amount of oil being pumped out of the ground every day reaches its highest point before beginning an inexorable decline - has been hotly debated for decades. Environmentalists have tended to warn oil could run out at any moment, while oil companies insist there are plently more oil fields yet to be discovered.
The most recent estimation from the International Energy Agency, that advises Governments around the world, said conventional oil would not peak until after 2030.
However an authoriative new study from the Government-funded UK Energy Research Council called this prediction "at best optimistic and at worst implausible". The peer-reviewed research looked at 500 studies from around the world and took into account the difficulty of accessing new oil fields as well as growing demand. It predicted oil will begin running out before 2030 and there is a "significant risk" peak oil will be reached before 2020.
"In our view, forecasts which delay a peak in conventional oil production until after 2030 are at best optimistic and at worst implausible. And given the world's overwhelming dependence on oil and the time required to develop alternatives, 2030 isn't far away," said the report's lead author Steve Sorrell. "The concern is that rising oil prices will encourage the rapid development of carbon-intensive alternatives which will make it difficult or impossible to prevent dangerous climate change."
Robert Gross, Head of Technology and Policy Assessment at UKERC, said as soon as oil begins to run out it will make energy more expensive, sparking a knock on effect on industry and economies around the world. Petrol prices would rise and long distance travel become more expensive.
"The age of easy and cheap oil is coming to an end," he said. "It doesn't suddenly come to an end, obviously it's a gradual change, but we're moving away from easy and cheap oil to increasingly difficult and expensive oil."
At the moment oil is around £44 ($70) per barrel after peaking at around £92 ($147) per barrel earlier in the year during the height of the economic crisis.
Dr Gross said the spectre of peak oil should encourage Governments to invest in more energy-efficient vehicles such as electric cars, renewable energy like wind or solar and improving energy efficiency in industry and homes.
But he said there was a risk that instead the world will start to look at even more intensive forms of fossil fuels, therefore producing more carbon emisions and causing "catastrophic climate change". Alternatives include heating tar sands to produce oil at huge cost both environmentally and financially.
"The danger is high oil prices push us into high carbon resources just as much as they might help push us towards renewables," he said. "The challenge for policy makers is to make sure, on a global scale, that that isn't the response to more difficult and expensive oil."
The world produces around 85 million barrels of oil every day. It is estimated this could rise to more than 100 million barrels per day before declining.
Oil companies like BP claim billions more barrels are availabe in new oil fields discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. However Mr Sorrell said these new supplies are extremely difficult to access and will only delay peak oil by a few weeks or even days. Even if the new fields are exploited, he said the world needs to move away from oil in order to stop global warming.
But Mr Sorrell said the UK Government had no contingency plans for oil peaking before 2020. "If these problems are ignored and we do not make these changes ahead of time, we are heading for trouble," he warned.
The IEA is due to release its latest report on peak oil this November, just before the world meets in Copenhagen to decide a new deal on climate change. The report will be a key influence on whether the rich world is willing to agree to set targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while also helping poor countries to switch to a low carbon economy.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently considering the UKERC report. "We are already well aware of the significant challenges for investment in future oil production and that there is a role for Governments to play in reducing demand for fossil fuels," a spokesman said. "Our climate change, energy efficiency and energy security policies outlined in the UK low carbon transition plan are not only reducing the UK?s carbon emissions, but are consistent with the need to reduce our use of fossil fuels."
DR ROWAN WILLIAMS: 'DIG FOR VICTORY OVER
CLIMATE CHANGE AND GROW YOUR OWN FOOD'
Ben Webster, Environment Editor and Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent - Times Online - 13 October 2009
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for "unsustainable" air-freighted food to be replaced gradually by homegrown produce from thousands of new allotments.
In an interview with The Times, Dr Rowan Williams said that families needed to respond to the threat of climate change by changing their shopping habits and adjusting their diets to the seasons, eating fruit and vegetables that could be grown in Britain.
He said that the carbon footprint of peas from Kenya and other airfreighted food was too high and families should not assume that all types of food would be available through the year. Dr Williams called for more land to be made available for allotments, saying that they would help people to reconnect with nature and wean them off a consumerist lifestyle.
The Archbishop was accused, however, of threatening the livelihoods of a million families in sub-Saharan Africa, who depended on exports of fresh produce to Europe. Michelle Di Leo, the director of Flying Matters, a lobby group funded by the aviation industry, said: "I'm sure the Archbishop means well but, as he should know, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and perhaps he should leave well alone."
Dr Williams said he recognised that many jobs in developing countries depended on exports of fresh produce, but it was a mistake to encourage those countries to base their economies on unsustainable practices. "I don't want to create an instant crisis in those economies but that's the direction, a steady move away from it. You want to ask what is it doing long term to a Kenyan economy that becomes dependent on what are effectively cash crops for export."
He said that Britain had to get back in touch with the "natural rhythms of the seasons... the fact that the Earth turns, things grow here and not there, now and not then". He added: "More people ought to have allotments. It's part of reconnecting - the sense of connectedness to natural processes."
The Archbishop was playing his part, he said, by consuming vegetables from a plot in Lambeth Palace. His family also received regular deliveries of locally grown produce.
Dr Williams also said that the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions meant looking at attitudes to travel. He had tried to have a "flight-free year" last year, but tight schedules meant that he had had to fly back to London from Paris and make a day-trip with other faith leaders to Auschwitz.
He called on politicians to end their obsession with economic growth and recognise that a sustainable society could not be achieved by the relentless pursuit of material wealth. "Consumerism treats each person as essentially a hole that you have to keep stuffing things into. But what's it like to have a life that is balanced, that is at home with its material and human environment? That's a question that has got to be asked."
Britain and other rich countries should consider how a "proper regime of carbon taxes can funnel back into positive sustainable investment in poorer economies", he said.
"I think there is a question of justice here. If you look at where most of the profit has gone and where most of the cost has been paid, there's not very much difficulty in working out how that looks. Deforestation, desertification, rising water levels and so forth. I do think it is part of the moral cost that we should be asking how do we repair some of the damage."
Dr Williams was speaking on the eve of a lecture that he is giving tonight at Southwark Cathedral, South London, on the Christian response to climate change. His comments came as President Obama's top climate change official supported global deployment of technology to capture and store carbon emissions released by burning coal.
Stephen Chu, the US Energy Secretary, called for the technique to be ready within ten years. He is in London for a conference today on the plans. Ministers from 15 countries will meet to attempt to push forward the technology, which aims to store emissions underground.
Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, said: "We are united in the view that carbon capture and storage must be developed rapidly so we make the switch to clean coal."
GREENPEACE PROTESTERS SPEND NIGHT
ON PARLIAMENT ROOF
Greenpeace protesters plan to remain on roof of Westminster Hall
for first day of parliament after chilly night under stars
Helen Pidd and Agencies - Guardian.co.uk - 12 October 2009
Thirty-one Greenpeace activists remained on the roof of the Palace of Westminster this morning protesting about climate change, the environmental group said. Another 23 protesters have been arrested, three of whom remained in custody, according to a Metropolitan police spokesman. Greenpeace said there had been 24 arrests in total.
The demonstrators climbed on to the roof, ramparts and a turret on top of Westminster Hall yesterday, unfurling yellow banners that read: "Change the politics, save the climate." They said there was little resistance from police when they moved quickly to prop ladders against the wall and climb up.
The activists hope to greet politicians as they arrive for the start of parliament this morning with a 12-point manifesto calling for zero carbon emissions by 2030, a stop to airport expansion, more wind power and new pollution taxes.
After four and three-quarter hours on the roof last night, some of the protesters climbed down one by one using a ladder and safety harness and were arrested for trespassing on a "protected site". The remainder climbed into bivvy bags in an attempt to keep warm through the night, Greenpeace UK said on its Twitter feed.
Anna Jones, 28, a full-time Greenpeace activist from Headingley, in Leeds, said from the roof this morning: "We can't stress enough how important this is. The clock is ticking - scientists are telling us we have just a few years left to act to save the planet.
"Now is the time to start putting policies in place to make sure we are on the right trajectory to peak our emissions and bring them down. But instead we have a government that is prepared to lock us into high carbon projects like the third runway at Heathrow."
She said direct action was necessary and effective. "Climate change is the biggest challenge we are facing. It takes action like this to make the politicians wake up. They are letting us down and letting down citizens around the world."
Jones said there had been very little police presence as activists quickly scaled the building. She said the protesters had managed to get some sleep on the roof overnight and had spotted shooting stars. "We're planning to stay here for the day. It's quite cold up here but we have had hot meals and are cosy huddled up under one of the big banners," she said.
Another protester on the roof, Brikesh Singh, 29, from Bangalore, in India, said: "This building is considered as the mother of all parliaments and the UK is one of the leading developed countries. It has to take leadership in solving the climate crisis so that developing countries can follow its lead."
John Sauven, the Greenpeace executive director, said: "We've got to raise the temperature of the debate because we are really running out of time. We are at a minute to midnight and there is so little time left but so much to do. Parliament is opening and there is an election looming so this is a golden opportunity for the political parties to really think about the future and what future generations will face."
The ease with which protesters gained access to the site raised concerns over security. The Lib Dem MP Norman Baker said: "There is understandable concern about the need to move faster and more effectively to tackle climate change, and Greenpeace are right to seek to protest in a peaceful way. But I would have preferred it if they had not done it by breaching the House of Parliament. It shows that things are not as they should be in security terms. The House authorities really need to sort this out."
A spokeswoman from the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: "Public demonstration to highlight the need for action on climate change by all within society is welcome, but it must be conducted in a way that respects the rule of law.
"We have a comprehensive plan to transform our economy and society, by investing in green jobs, cleaning up our energy supplies and making our homes energy efficient. This week we host vital talks to accelerate the development of clean coal and to progress the Copenhagen deal. It's our domestic record that has given us the credibility we need to press hard for an ambitious global climate deal."
A House of Commons spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that 45 protesters climbed up the wall adjacent to the Cromwell Green building. Police have the situation contained. At no time did the protesters have any access to the building, nor did they seek it."
SHEIKS TO FUND 'BORIS ISLAND' AIRPORT
IN THE THAMES ESTUARY
Mayor's deputy Kit Malthouse claims the airport could be funded by Sheikhs
Sri Carmichael, Consumer Affairs Reporter - This is London Online - 7 October 2009
Boris Johnson's plan to build an airport on platforms in the Thames estuary is being backed by money from oil-rich countries in the Gulf, it was claimed today. "Boris Island", as the £40 million proposed site two miles off Sheerness has been called, could be entirely bankrolled and owned by sheikhs.
The Mayor's deputy, Kit Malthouse, said it could be built within 10 years. Plans indicate it would dwarf the capacity of Heathrow's two runways.
He added: "We have had an incredible amount of interest from countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, which have signalled they would like to fund the airport. It is possible we could build it without taxpayers' money. Who wouldn't want to own an immovable fixed asset just off the coast? It's extremely valuable and the owners of sovereign wealth funds know they could bequeath it to their children."
Mr Malthouse said the Chinese government had also indicated it may want to put cash into the project during discussions at the Beijing Olympics.
The interest from countries willing to fund the airport answers critics who dismissed the scheme as far too expensive.
The Government, which is planning to increase airport capacity through a third runway at Heathrow if it wins the next election, has previously called it "fantasy island", while airport operator BAA has questioned where the money would come from.
In two weeks the Mayor will publish the first "surface level" feasibility study into the airport, which is looking for any "howler" hurdles that could prevent construction. Mr Malthouse said it will show the two artificial islands built in four-metre deep water and holding up to six runways will be "technically possible".
The islands are to be linked to terminals on the mainland by tunnels or bridges and the buildings would be powered by giant water turbines using the tides. Planes would take off and land over the sea, solving the blight of noise from engines and allowing the airport to operate around the clock.
OUR COMMENT: Just one blight only partly removed - does Boris believe that all planes keep to the same straight line? No answer to all the other problems! Ask around other airports!
LAST STAND OF THE RUNWAY REBELS: THE FIVE DEFIANT FAMILIES FIGHTING TO STOP THEIR VILLAGES BEING SWALLOWED UP BY STANSTED
Jane Fryer - Daily Mail - 3 October 2009
They've fought tooth and nail for 30 years to save their idyllic community from being flattened for a new runway at Stansted. Now, as airport bosses buy off their neighbours, just five families are left, refusing to give in...
At first glance and on a sunny day, Molehill Green in Takeley, Essex, looks picture perfect. The thatched cottages are festooned with wisteria, dog roses and Virginia creeper. The hedgerows of School Lane are a glorious tangle of fruit-laden brambles, rosehips and weeping willows. And the warm autumn air is alive with dragonflies, bees and greedy blue-tits feasting on berries and worms.
On closer inspection, however, things aren't quite so idyllic. The once immaculate gardens are overgrown and untended, some windows are smeary with dirt, paintwork is tired and peeling, the occasional stained mattress and boxes of rubbish are strewn in backyards, and there's a general air of neglect.
"That house is empty... and that one, and those two... and that one... and the one across the road there, and most of the others are rented now," says former local resident Maggie Sutton, 50, as we walk away from the green.
"In the good old days, there used to be a school, a couple of shops, a pub at the end of School Lane, you name it. I can't imagine living here now - it must be awful for the people who've dug their heels in and refused to sell, like living in a ghost town." Albeit a very noisy ghost town. Because every few minutes the air rumbles as Ryanair and easyJet planes take off and land a few hundred yards away.
Welcome to the Stansted Airport Expansion Zone - 1,700 acres of beautiful Essex countryside, woodland, pretty thatched villages, listed buildings and sleepy lanes that, if Stansted owner BAA has its way, will one day be bulldozed to make way for a second runway, thousands of car-parking spaces, ten hotels, hundreds of offices and more concrete than you can imagine, all so millions more of us can nip to Tenerife for the weekend.
For the past 30 years, as the airport grew and further plans for its expansion took shape, BAA has been buying up local properties in its way. So far, it has spent £90 million on 270 properties in and around the proposed site. A second runway at Stansted won't happen before at least 2017 - yet the BAA has already bought up most of Takeley
This week it was announced that The Three Horseshoes at Molehill, a 16th-century Grade II-listed pub, complete with original beams, enormous fireplace and said to have been frequented by Dick Turpin, was the latest to be sold, for an undisclosed sum. It was slap-bang in the middle of the proposed site and for years has been the regular meeting place for the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group.
"It's very symbolic that the pub is going," says one long-term resident who prefers not to give his name. "They claim it'll stay open longer this way because the previous landlord has leased it back on a short-term lease, but it's airport-owned now, along with the shop, and the old school, the village hall and almost every single house."
He's right. The sale of The Three Horseshoes means there are just five privately owned properties left within the proposed extension site, all of which will be subject to Compulsory Purchase Orders if planning consent for the runway is granted.
Most of the remaining owner-residents are pensioners who, like local blacksmith Ron Halls, have lived here for most of their lives. None appears to have any intention of giving in to BAA until the bulldozers come crashing through their front gates.
Roy Outten, 82, has been living at The Rockies - a sprawling bungalow and small-holding on School Lane, which he shares with his pet goats Push and Jill, two dogs, and a couple of cats - since 1975. "They're not interested in my house, they just want the two-acre field at the back where I've buried all my animals over the years as they've passed away. Goodness knows what it'd end up as - a car park, offices, a slip road? They keep on and on about it, but I don't give them any hope because I'm just not interested. I don't need the money - I'm 82, for goodness sake - and I'll happily go to the European Court to stop them."
The expansion plans have attracted many protests. "It's partly because of the animals buried there, but I don't like big companies ploughing over everyone. Someone's got to stand up to them."
Similarly, John and Rosemary Welch, both in their 70s, have no intention of leaving their 17th-century, half-timbered, thatched home at Takeley.
"This is our home. We've lived here for 37 years. We don't want to go and why should they make us go?' says Rosemary, busy among the raspberry bushes at the bottom of her lovely garden."
"If we were in our 30s it might be different - we'd probably move," says John. "But at our age we don't want to start again. And you know the daftest thing? Because it's Grade II-listed, we've spent years battling for consents to do any sort of repairs. You can't replace the windows unless they're exactly the same as they were, and it took years of palaver to be allowed to put tiles on the garden shed. All these bloody consents and BAA can come along and build an airport on top of it."
Or, at least, around it. BAA has to work around listed buildings, either dismantling and rebuilding them brick by brick outside the boundary - as they would be forced to do with The Three Horseshoes pub - or simply leaving them intact and building around them, stranding them in oceans of concrete.
Some people might think if you're daft enough to live next to the UK's third busiest airport (last year Stansted served more than 22 million passengers) you get what you deserve. But things were different when they bought their homes.
"When we moved in, the airport was tiny - just for light aircraft, and a long way from here," says Rosemary. "We know things change, but in the early Eighties we had a letter from the Board of Trade, making it clear that there'd be no major expansion to the airport. We'd never have moved here if we'd had any idea of what we were getting into. It's been hanging over us for decades. We've written to Margaret Thatcher, we've demonstrated, we've campaigned. We've had 25 years of stress and uncertainty as the politicians changed their minds and dates and deadlines, and the heart drained out of our community."
Along with most of the residents. They've gone in two tranches, some in the Eighties, when expansion first looked likely. And a second wave during the past four years after a team of officials turned up out of the blue and, according to appalled residents, marched about taking notes and fixing yellow stickers on everything in the way of the expansion zone.
With the threat of the runway hanging over them, residents were thrown into an awful limbo, unable to borrow money on their property - mortgage companies won't lend money on 'blighted' properties - and unable to make any permanent decisions about their future.
It was the not knowing that finished most people off. Maggie, a very chatty mother of five and my guide for the day, sold up three years ago, when she couldn't take it any more. "You live under such pressure worrying what's going to happen, when it's going to happen, whether it's going to happen, that eventually it just wears you down until you can't take it any more. We were determined to stay, but by the time 14 of my closest neighbours had gone, there didn't seem much point in staying."
Residents of Takeley have been hanging under the threat of expansion for 25 years - as more and more flights take off from Stansted every year
To be fair, BAA offers a pretty good deal - an agreed market value, moving expenses, plus stamp duty on a replacement home. Which is great if you're a young family happy to up sticks and start again elsewhere. But less so for people such as Roy, Ron and the Welches, who, at their age, can't envisage relocating, however dismal their once thriving community has become.
And it is pretty dismal. The village hall, once a social whirl of film shows, social evenings, art classes, aerobics and tiny tots sessions, now has a depressingly deserted air - all peeling paint and a dog-eared 'NO WAY BAA' poster fluttering in a window.
The village shop looks tatty and dated. Several houses appear abandoned - windows boarded, gardens a thorny tangle. What used to be pretty, thatched Yew Tree Cottage is a burnt out wreck, criss-crossed with scaffolding and covered in polythene.
And while BAA has done its best to rent the vacant properties on short-term leases while development decisions pend, everything has a tired air.
"There's no incentive to fix anything," says Roy. "Who's going to paint the window frames when their house could be flattened?"
Residents complain that BAA does the absolute minimum to keep their properties standing and that short-term tenants are discouraged from making improvements - something that the company strenuously denies. "Each time a tenant improves a property, BAA puts the rent up on the basis they've increased the value of the property," says Roy. "It's madness."
Even the handful of privately-owned homes are suffering. "We're forever um-ing and ah-ing about whether to do any work - even whether it's worth buying a carpet." says Rosemary. "You dither for so long until in the end you think: 'Oh blow it, you can't live for ever in limbo, we'll give it a fresh coat of paint'."
Locals claim the influx of short-term tenants has devastated the community. "There is no community any more," says one resident who's lived and worked in Molehill Green for most of his life. "There's no heart to the place, no continuity, no central core. The new tenants aren't interested, they won't even say hello in the street. They rent on short-term contracts and leave."
Or as Roy puts it: "Excuse my language, but most of the new tenants are a bloody nuisance. We've had no end of trouble - vandalism, theft, disturbing behaviour."
It hasn't helped that several of the houses are now rented out by BAA as care homes for young adults, although a BAA spokesmen stresses that they do everything possible to keep the properties in good condition and some of the properties lying empty, particularly on School Lane, are still owned by the district council.
But the ironic thing is that for now - and it's been on and off more times than most people round here like to recall - the entire second runway project, already pushed back to 2017 at the earliest, is on hold. A planning inquiry, due to take place in the spring, has been postponed while BAA appeals against a ruling by the Competition Commission that the firm should sell some airports, including the Essex terminal.
But in the meantime, even without a second runway, with more than 22million passengers a year, traffic levels around Stansted have exploded.
As well as the sound of planes ("The worst are the cargo planes that come in at night - they get the windows really rattling," says John Welch) there's the ground traffic. "It starts from 5am and it's constant - workers, coaches," adds Rosemary.
On top of that, there's the fly-parking - cars parked in fields, local lanes, even blocking private driveways as their drivers wait for flights to land. And finally, what about the sale of the pub - the home of the Stop Stansted Expansion group?
Landlord Paul Holmes, who's only been here for the past five years, seems pretty sanguine: "It's not nice being forced to sell. But I know what I'm doing now. I've leased it back from BAA and I've got a plan for the next five years - a bit of certainty."
Other locals are less enthusiastic. "This was a lovely village that has had a great black cloud hanging over it for the last 30 years," says one local. "And it's just got a bit blacker."
But don't things look hopeful now? "One week it's on, the next it's off. It doesn't mean anything to us any more. We've had plenty of parties to celebrate victories in the past and look at the place now - would you be celebrating?"
He's got a point. And with that, I bid my farewells to Takeley, with its faded campaign posters and air of sadness. It hardly bears thinking that if the runway doesn't actually go ahead, then the abandoned homes, the devastated community, poor Roy and Ron and the Welches bravely sticking it out through decades of distress and uncertainty, might all have been for nothing.
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