Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2010


Dunmow Broadcast - 28 September 2010

OVER 150 people put their best foot forward for the four-mile runway ramble organised by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).

The group's chairman Peter Sanders was joined for the Hallingbury Hike by Uttlesford district councillors, including leader Jim Ketteridge and his opposite number Peter Wilcock, together with chairman of Great Hallingbury Parish Council, Martin Mugele, and representatives from across north west Essex and East Herts.

SSE took commemorative photographs at the start of the walk featuring placards of village signs to represent the scores of communities affected by the continued blight resulting from BAA's refusal to give a long term guarantee that it won't resurrect its expansion plans.

OUR COMMENT: There is still a significant lobby for continued airport expansion in spite of the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the continued official support for the policies enshrined in the Climate Change Act. With regard to the health and welfare of Stansted airport's local residents, including the effects of aircraft noise, their future living environment is very much in the hands of BAA and its future management. Hence the need to maintain an effective and representative community group able to monitor, advise, help, and act if necessary. Who else but SSE?

See Photos

Pat Dale


BAA chairman Sir Nigel Rudd wants his customers to enjoy world class terminals, but he warns no third runway at Heathrow will leave it a
second-tier airport

James Quinn - Daily Telegraph - 25 September 2010

Sir Nigel Rudd, the BAA chairman, says: "We're not perfect and we're never going to be, but the way we handled the ash cloud situation was an indication of how we've improved."

For a man charged with being the figurehead and cheerleader for the nation's biggest - and busiest - airports, Sir Nigel Rudd isn't really a fan of flying.

"I'm always amused when a pilot says enjoy your flight. I don't want to enjoy my flight - I just want to get there. People don't enjoy flights any more, they might have done sixty years ago, but not today," confesses Sir Nigel, the serial director who put the plural into pluralism long before Sir Allan Leighton popularly coined the term.

His dislike of flying has shaped the realism he has brought to one of his most recent of roles, chairman of BAA - owner of Heathrow and five other UK airports plus Naples. He has recently signed a new contract for a second three-year term.

"The issue with BAA is you're never going to be liked. It's a bit like being a bank," admits the former deputy chairman of Barclays, credited with creating the acquistive Williams conglomerate in the 1980s, whose constituent companies included Chubb and Kidde. "You're not there for the airport, you're there because you want to be somewhere else. So don't think you're going to be liked, because you're not," he continues in his slightly gruff Derbyshire tone.

If Sir Nigel appears exceedingly honest about the job in hand, it is because he is. A man with a reputation for building value and transforming company's expectations, in his first three years he is credited with reshaping the company's management team and getting its finances on a more stable footing. All this after what could have been an annus horribilis for the company, given the volcanic ash cloud closures - which cost BAA £40m - and the upheaval caused by British Airway's cabin crew strikes.

But more importantly, perhaps, Sir Nigel is also credited with getting - to a large degree - owner Ferrovial's name out of the media spotlight - changed days from the £10.3bn takeover in 2006, at which point the Spanish infrastructure investor was public enemy number one for the British media.

To counter-act that, he's taken a number of decisive steps, not least parting company with Stephen Nelson, BAA's commercial director turned chief executive, and hiring Colin Matthews, Severn Trent's former chief executive, in his place. To top it all off, he's put passengers back at the heart of airport operations.

"There was confusion at BAA I think in who the customer was. I think BAA thought it was the airlines because they pay the landing charge. My view is, forget that, the customer is the person that's walking through the airport."

He also points out that there was a distinct culture of blame-shifting within the company, with BAA blaming airlines and customs for delays, and vice-versa. "Colin [Matthews] got the point very quickly that actually passengers don't care. They're not interested [who's at fault] and if we, as the owners of the airport, try and get a relationship with the suppliers, then actually that's better for us."

A stark pragmatist, Sir Nigel acknowledges that Heathrow will never be perfect. He realises planes will always be delayed, bags will inevitably be lost, but that if each passengers visit is somehow better than the last - in some small way - then BAA is winning the fight.

"You're not going to change things overnight, but all I can say is I think the overall experience is an awful lot better than it was three years ago. We're not perfect and we're never going to be, but the way we handled the ash cloud situation was an indication of how we've improved."

As hands-on as a chairman can be without interfering with BAA's executive team, he recalls times when he has quietly stood by the security checkpoints at Heathrow to watch the flow of passengers, and how passengers and security guards interact, and how it might be improved.

His conversation is also littered with anecdotes from close friends based on their travels, as well as his own, flying frequently to Johannesburg in his role as a non-executive director of Sappi, the South African paper and pulp giant.

Clearly proud of Heathrow and what it has become - boasting that it dealt with its busiest day of passengers on record in July, some 230,000, without any major glitches - he also acknowledges that passengers receive different treatment depending on which airline they fly, with BA's Terminal Five currently the jewel in Heathrow's crown.

"We're spending £2bn on the new Terminals One and Two, which will be the headquarters for Star Alliance, and Terminal Four, where we've done an awful lot of work. In fairness to the airlines, it's the home airport for BA and you'd expect its terminal to be a lot nicer, but it should be a more even experience. I do think we're going to have four of the most modern terminals in the world by the time we've finished in 2013."

But what Sir Nigel isn't going to have is a third runway at Heathrow. That became clear following the General Election, given both coalition parties opposed the expansion in their respective manifestos, with final confirmation coming in the first week of the new Government in a policy statement cancelling plans for the runway and promising any new runways at Gatwick or Stansted would also be refused.

So where does that leave Heathrow? "Heathrow is full. I am a strong believer in democracy, and the Government has been elected on the basis that there is no third runway. But the dynamic of Heathrow now is to make sure London remains internationally competitive. The questions I want answering is if there is going to be no third runway, and no more in the south-east of England, how does the nation cope with the fact that we're going to receive an ever decreasing share of international passengers as all the other major international airports are expanding?"

As it stands, Heathrow flies to 186 international destinations, and will be unable to offer many more, putting it at a disadvantage to continental rivals such as Amsterdam's Schipol and Paris's Charles de Gaulle. Passengers flying from Frankfurt can fly direct to five cities in China, he points out, as opposed to just two from Heathrow.

"As a result, we're becoming less competitive. Now that's a political decision and we have to live with that and take the consequences as a nation. Even if we continue to make operational improvements, it will still be a world class but second tier airport I'm afraid."

Sir Nigel's masters - Ferrovial plus the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and Caisse de Depot et placement du Quebec, the Canadian pension fund - unsurprisingly don't quite understand the Government's decision. "They think it's wrong. The Spaniards and particularly the Singaporeans don't understand why we're not championing the UK. But I'm realistic enough to know it's over for the foreseeable future."

He argues that financially the impact of not having a third runway does not overly depress the returns investors will see in the coming years, and says he has never spoken to Ferrovial about its exit strategy: "They see it as a very long term investment."

For Sir Nigel, having a conversation with investors about the direction is nothing new, but having such a direct relationship is. When he took the post - when headhunter Spencer Stuart approached him shortly after he had stepped down his role as chairman of Boots - at first he wasn't overly interested in the role.

"One of the issues throughtout my career was I'd never had anything to do with government, and although BAA is a private business, it's highly regulated and it touches government all the time." That, and the fact that he understood what Rafael del Pino, Ferrovial's chairman, was looking for, meant he came to be interested.

"They wanted someone who'd try and put a better balance into the public's perception of the company, but also someone who wanted experience of running major businesses who could take a view on the management and whether it was doing the right job."

He was also tempted by the chance to have a more direct relationship with BAA's 'shareholders', a different type of breed than the public investors he's dealt with for the last three decades: "I'm reporting directly to the owners of the business, and it's quite refreshing in many ways because you're talking to the owners and the owners really know what they're trying to achieve and you can [get] a better alignment."

He likens his role in a way to his early days at Williams, the conglomerate that he built to become one of the UK's largest industrial giants, from which a number of well-known business figures emanated, including Roger Carr, now chairman of Centrica, and Brian McGowan, Sir Nigel's business partner. "At Williams, it was like a management school. And the vanity I suppose is me being the orchestra leader."

These days he conducts operations not only at BAA, but also at Invensys, the FTSE100 engineer where he is chairman, and at Pendragon, the last remaining part of the Williams empire he is still involved with and a post from which he is standing down later this year. He is also chairman of Longbow Capital, a medically-focused venture capital house at which his son, Edward, is a partner.

It is at the mention of Longbow that he becomes particularly animated, talking about one of the portfolio companies which he managed to introduce to Boots, and likening the thrill of the investment chase to Williams' acquisitive days.

But in the public arena, he remains a man much in demand, regularly linked as a possible contender for one of the many FTSE chairmanships currently up for grabs. "I'm full," is his brief response, noting that he couldn't take another FTSE chairmanship given strict corporate governance guidelines even if he wanted to.

"I've got enough on really. I'm 63 now, and so if I did finish here [BAA] after another three years here, I'll be 66. I have been working since I was 15 or 16."

"When I stop enjoying it, that's when I'll stop. You always get tempted, you say sometimes I'm not going to do anything else, and someone says why don't you do this or that? We'll see. I get up to go to work to play, and I say this in the nicest possible way. I play golf, I have lots of holidays; I don't get up in the morning and not have anything to do. That would terrify me, that would seriously terrify me."


Daily Telegraph - 26 September 2010

1. As other European airports make great strides to expand, Heathrow travellers are left feeling hemmed in

If there is a more depressing statement about the future of UK Plc then I have yet to hear it. Sir Nigel Rudd's brave admission today has almost to be read twice to understand its importance. "Even if we continue to make operational improvements, it will still be a world class but second-tier airport I'm afraid."

We're not talking about East Midlands or Manchester or Glasgow airport - fine places that they indeed may be. We are talking about Heathrow - the UK's most important global hub and driver of economic growth, not just in the South East of England but for the whole of Britain. As Frankfurt, Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle make great strides in improving the services they can offer travellers - business and tourist - we are left with an increasingly hemmed-in international airport.

Heathrow should be one of our major gateways to the globalised world - a precious stone in our economic crown. We are in danger of being left with a paste diamond. And in a world where people and capital can move quickly to those places most supportive of economic growth, we are risking - through the very British disease of benign neglect - a once world-beating asset.

The Government's refusal to even countenance the option of building a third runway is sadly based on the small-town politics of the ballot box rather than the strategic needs of the nation. The historians will write that it was concern over the marginal seats of south and west London (nearly all held by the two parties at present in the Coalition, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats) that led to a constant blocking group against change at Heathrow. The historians will shake their heads in disbelief.

Last week Boeing produced a sobering report about the importance of air travel. In the next 20 years, the commercial aviation industry will require nearly a million new pilots and aircraft maintenance staff to keep the ever-growing global fleet in the air. More than 30,000 new planes will be delivered in the same period.

The main areas of growth - and this is no surprise - will be in the Asia-Pacific region. Services to China and to other emerging-market nations will be increasingly important in creating the right connections to take advantage of new economic opportunities. As Sir Nigel, the chairman of BAA, reveals today, Frankfurt offers five direct flights to destinations in China (a number that will surely increase), Heathrow offers two (a number that has as much chance of increasing as Vince Cable has of being welcomed with open arms to the annual general meeting of the British Bankers' Association).

2. It would only be the worst type of Luddite who did not make clear that growth should not come at the expense of the environment - or even a good night's sleep for those living under Heathrow's numerous flight-paths. But, rather than banning expansion, it would be far better to encourage innovation by setting targets on CO2 emissions and noise which airlines and BAA have to meet to enable them to use the extra capacity. Before the election, some senior figures at BAA were confident that the Conservatives, once they had won power, might reconsider their position. They have been proved wrong.

3. Heathrow is the latest headwind with which UK Plc is struggling. Last week, Mark Elborne, the CEO of General Electric in the UK, made a key point in relation to another growing headache for our global firms based here - the ill-conceived immigration cap.

"It is terribly important that we don't do things that individually may not seem of enormous consequence but when they are combined with other issues are just one more chip in the UK's competitiveness."

To Heathrow and immigration we can combine the threat to the UK's finance sector from myriad regulatory hurdles which, taken together, add yet more strength to the headwind we are leaning into. Once that wind is strong enough to flip us off our feet, it will be too late.

Although the sober "questions paper" from the Government's Independent Commission on Banking was broadly welcomed when it was published on Friday, its British focus inevitably raises the question of geographical arbitrage. Put in place restrictions here which are not followed in other countries and the global finance sector will take advantage at the margins, moving away and betting against London.

There is already evidence that London is suffering. Last week figures from the Global Financial Centres Index revealed that Hong Kong was gaining fast on London and New York for the title of best global financial centre to do business. According to the perceptions of industry leaders surveyed - ie the very people who make decisions on allocation of capital for new business investment - London has slipped by three points and New York by five points, while Hong Kong has gained 21 points.

Earlier this month, the annual Best Countries to do Business survey by Forbes revealed that the UK had fallen from 6th to 10th. In the same ranking, Hong Kong had leapt from 9th to 2nd.

Of course, as Sir John Vickers said at the launch of the commission's report, we must keep the "threat" to London as a global capital in perspective. The City still has the mass of professional services necessary to support the headquartering of global firms here. One senior director I had lunch with last week was full of praise - after recently working in continental Europe - for the go-ahead nature of the City and the positive way that business development was viewed in the UK generally. At our best we are, by instinct, a "sounds good, let's do it" sort of country rather than a "ah, look at all the risks" one.

But we must always be wary of taking for granted our position as a global centre for so many fine businesses. As HSBC - which appeared last week to run out of feet in which to shoot itself - has revealed, when the decision is taken to move the centre of gravity eastwards it is a decision that is unlikely ever to be reversed. Stuart Gulliver, the new CEO, will be based in Hong Kong, just like Michael Geoghegan before him.

With the graduate tax (nothing less than a tax on success, pure and simple), the generally increasing tax burden and European clampdowns on private equity and hedge fund operations, we face a rich soup of risks to which Heathrow can be added.

By instinct, David Cameron and George Osborne understand the issue. Privately they are much more pro-business and pro-finance than they feel they can say in public. The Prime Minister's dismissal of Mr Cable's "spivs and gamblers" speech with an airy "Vince is Vince" - a deliberate echo of Tony Blair's description of John Prescott - is heartening. We need to hear much more on the positive economic agenda for growth from Mr Cameron - even if he is on the wrong side of the Heathrow debate.

OUR COMMENT: The voices of the lobby - but airports are not isolated islands servicing travelers and investors, they are physically part of a local community and are themselves dependent on that community for many services and support. The interests of that community should always be an important factor in any airport's policies.

Pat Dale


O'Leary vows to 'blow away' rivals in shift to city airports

Peter Flanagan - Irish Independent - 24 September 2010

RYANAIR is set to move to more central airports across Europe as it looks to attract more business travellers. The airline is looking at moving away from low-cost airports well outside cities to capitalise on the higher fares business customers would be willing to pay.

The low-cost carrier has gained much of its growth in recent years from sourcing airports with cheaper or no landing fees that allow a quick turnaround. Many of these airports, such as Brussels-Charleroi or Paris-Beauvais, are dozens of miles outside the cities they serve.

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary says the airline is looking at opening routes to all of Europe's major hubs, except for London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt am Main.

Speaking to Bloomberg News, Mr O'Leary said Ryanair was talking to "almost any airport that we don't fly to" as growth in its current model flattens during the downturn.

"At the moment it's all about price, price, price, but as you slow down the growth rate you're doing less discounting to fill seats," he said. "Your focus is more on 'most-on-time airline in Europe', the fewest bags lost, brand-new aircraft, all-leather seating -- the carey-sharey stuff," he added.

Fares will not be jumping in the short term, according to the airline head. Instead, it will be a more gradual increase. "It'll be an evolutionary process," he said. "When fares aren't being reduced every year in 2013, 2014, 2015 there'll be more of a focus on quality, service, customer satisfaction and all that, because the prices will be rising. But are we suddenly going to go from an average fare of ?34 to ?100? No!"

EasyJet already flies to most central airports on the continent, but Mr O'Leary said that his airline could "blow them out of it".


Steve Rothwell - Business Week - 4 October 2010

London's Gatwick airport plans to cut fees, improve rail links and lure long-haul carriers in a bid to boost the annual passenger count as much as 40 percent and better compete with the U.K. capital's dominant Heathrow hub.

Infrastructure improvements and more competitive rates for airlines could help lift traffic at Gatwick, already the world's busiest single-runway airport, to as many as 45 million people, Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate said in an interview.

Global Infrastructure Partners, which bought Gatwick from BAA Ltd. for 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) in 2009, aims to establish the asset as a London gateway for services that don't require onward links, distinguishing it from Heathrow, Europe's biggest hub airport. Wingate, who once worked for Heathrow owner BAA, said Gatwick was held back under the previous regime.

"As the second child in the family you're in a difficult situation," Wingate said. "Gatwick is easily the next-biggest U.K. airport after Heathrow, but it was never treated half as well as what is perceived to be the jewel in the BAA crown."

Gatwick forecasts a passenger total of about 32 million this year, little changed from 2009, when the airport ranked eighth-busiest in Europe and No. 31 in the world. Heathrow, with 66 million passengers, was second globally, behind Atlanta.

Traffic at Gatwick peaked at 35.4 million passengers in 2007, before the global recession. Wingate said numbers will rise as EasyJet Plc, Gatwick's largest carrier since British Airways Plc stopped using the airport as a major hub, reconfigures its fleet toward denser seating and Ryanair Holdings Plc introduces more flights as it reduces services at BAA's Stansted base, north of London.

Landing Fees
Technological improvements should also permit more aircraft movements with Gatwick's sole runway than the current peak of 52 an hour and infrastructure enhancements will bring in more long- haul carriers operating larger wide-body aircraft, the CEO said.

The landing fees charged to airlines will be cut by using a 1 billion-pound funding pot more efficiently and passing on 100 million pounds of savings, Wingate said. Gatwick's fees are regulated by the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority every five years, with the permitted tariffs based on the amount invested.

"We do see long-haul growth returning to Gatwick, and there's no reason why that shouldn't be the case," he said. "Heathrow is an alliance hub and that's the majority of their activity, but there is certainly quite a bit of point-to-point business to be had on the periphery of that."

Smoother Security
Global Infrastructure Partners plans to part-fund construction of a dedicated platform at Gatwick's railway station for the sole use of airport trains. Current services are provided as part of the Southern rail franchise and carriages are sometimes packed with commuters.

Delays that had made Gatwick notorious among travelers have been addressed via new procedures for hand-luggage checks which aim to process 95 percent of all outbound passengers within five minutes. The airport has consistently achieved that goal this summer, having repeatedly fallen short under BAA, Wingate said.

Security checks at Gatwick's South Terminal will be further streamlined when a single checkpoint replaces a three-zone system, with work scheduled to be finished by 2013 being brought forward for completion before London hosts the 2012 Olympics.

Baggage delays are being combated with the publication next to carousels of league tables of the best - and worst - performing airlines to spur help them to lift performance, the CEO said. Refurbishment of the monorail that runs between Gatwick's two terminals was completed in July and a new car park is being built at the North Terminal.

Credit Suisse, GE
Wingate said that New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners, which is backed by Credit Suisse Group AG and General Electric Co. and also controls London City airport, is likely to seek another investment partner for Gatwick, with "one more little parcel of equity sold off."

The California Public Employees Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension, bought a 12.7 percent stake in Gatwick for 106 million pounds in June, following the sale of undisclosed holdings to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Korea's National Pension Service.

BAA sold Gatwick to Global Infrastructure Partners under pressure from U.K. antitrust regulators in order to reduce the Ferrovial SA unit's dominance of the U.K. market.


Obama administration attacks EU aviation emissions trading plan

Transport and Environment Online - 28 September 2010

America is making a new attempt to stop the EU introducing aviation into its Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012. The USA, backed by Canada and Mexico, is submitting a resolution to the International Civil Aviation Organisation?s triennial general assembly later this month, saying emissions trading should only apply to nations who have specifically agreed to it. The EUs climate commissioner said the USA was seeking to put up barriers for others when it had not done anything to tackle the problem itself.

The resolution, that will be debated at Icao's general assembly, says countries 'seeking to implement an emissions trading system that applies to other states' aircraft operators' should only be allowed to do so 'on the basis of mutual agreement'. In other words, any single country would have the right to say its airlines do not have to pay any charges for the gases their aircraft emit.

According to the International Herald Tribune newspaper, which has seen a copy of the draft resolution, the three North American countries admit that pressure is increasing to establish international rules on aviation emissions, but said there was 'no consensus on such a global approach at this time'.

The EU's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the USA had effectively demanded "a veto right over what measures states can take to limit the climate impacts of aviation". She added that the North American resolution was "obviously a recipe for continued global inaction and not what we need to move this agenda forward in a positive and constructive way".

Even if it were passed, the resolution would be non-binding, so the EU could ignore it, but aside from the political pressure to delay the start date that the resolution might cause, the initiative suggests the political climate in Washington towards tackling aviation's emissions might not be changing.

"We had hoped the Obama administration would be more environmentally aware than the Bush administration," said T&E policy officer Bill Hemmings. "This is a setback to those hopes. It appears from this activity that America is continuing the Bush line of attacking aviation's introduction into the ETS through the back door of insisting on mutual agreement. Given all the evidence about the carbon-intensity of aviation and the supposed greater environmental awareness under Barack Obama, this is deeply disappointing."

Three of the leading American airlines and the Air Transport Association of America are also challenging the legality of putting aviation into the ETS. The European Court of Justice is currently considering the challenge. T&E and several other environmental groups will give evidence in the case.

At the same time, the three airlines (American, Continental and United) have been making preparations to join the ETS. They have had monitoring plans approved, which means they would qualify for 85% of their permits to be free-of-charge.

T&E has always said emissions trading must be seen as a first step towards tackling aviation's environmental impact, not a solution on its own. In a letter to the Financial Times newspaper earlier this month, Hemmings called for an end to air transport's exemption from fuel taxes and value-added tax when the Commission reviews the EU's energy taxation and VAT directives later this year. He described the VAT exemption for aviation as "blatantly unfair and makes EU climate policy needlessly inefficient".

The failure to include emissions from international aviation and shipping in the Kyoto protocol could wipe out 2-3% of the EU's emissions savings, according to a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute and Third World Network. The unpublished study says that, instead of cutting emissions by 12% between 1990 and 2012, the EU could see them rise by 9% by 2020 because of four loopholes, of which aviation and shipping emissions are one.


ENDS Europe DAILY - 1 October 2010

Global aircraft fuel consumption is expected to increase at a rate of 3-3.5% annually in years to come, according to the latest annual environmental report of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) published this week.

The report was issued ahead of the UN body's meeting that began on Thursday and runs to the end of next week. Governments are expected to agree a deal to cut CO2. The report, which will inform the meeting, is a compilation of the latest data available for how aviation affects the environment, human health and quality of life.

Passenger traffic is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.8% per year through 2036. The number of people exposed to a day-night average sound level of 55, currently 21 million, will increase between 0.7% and 1.6% per year. Aircraft emissions of NOx are predicted to go up between 2.4-3.5% annually.

In terms of energy efficiency, the ICAO has endorsed a goal of an annual 2% improvement between now and 2050. But this will do nothing to stop fuel consumption from growing, as the report shows. Goals going beyond fuel efficiency are being debated.

In September a meeting of aviation industry representatives called on the ICAO to agree to a sectoral limit on CO2 in line with their own industry-set targets. These include a goal of capping net emissions from 2020, with only carbon-neutral growth after that date.

OUR COMMENT: The figures do not add up!

Pat Dale


Outspoken airline chief says climate change
is a plot by scientists seeking research cash

Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent - The Independent - 10 September 2010

Michael O'Leary claims there is 'no link' between man-made carbon and climate change

Charging for toilets, weighing passengers and flying with a lone pilot: Ryanair's combative boss Michael O'Leary is renowned for backing unusual ideas, but some passengers may feel that even he has overstepped the mark with his latest comments - denying the existence of global warming. In an interview with The Independent littered with expletives, the chief executive of Europe's largest airline branded the scientific consensus that man-made pollution is heating up the planet with potentially grave consequences for the future of humanity as "horseshit".

He agreed the climate was changing but denied it was caused by man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, such as those from his planes. "Nobody can argue that there isn't climate change. The climate's been changing since time immemorial," he said.

Why let the facts get in the way when your profits are at stake?

"Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it's all a load of bullshit. But it's amazing the way the whole fucking eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven't risen in the past 12 years, they say 'climate change'."

"Well, hang on, we've had an ice age. We've also had a couple of very hot spells during the Middle Ages, so nobody can deny climate change. But there's absolutely no link between man-made carbon, which contributes less than 2 per cent of total carbon emissions [and climate change]."

He suggested scientists had invented and perpetuated the theory in order to gain research grants. "Scientists argue there is global warming because they wouldn't get half of the funding they get now if it turns out to be completely bogus," he said.

"The scientific community has nearly always been wrong in history anyway. In the Middle Ages, they were going to excommunicate Galileo because the entire scientific community said the Earth was flat... I mean, it is absolutely bizarre that the people who can't tell us what the fucking weather is next Tuesday can predict with absolute precision what the fucking global temperatures will be in 100 years' time. It's horseshit."

He mocked global warming campaigners, describing the United Nations as "one of the world's most useless organisations", its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as "utter tosh", and US politician Al Gore as someone who "couldn't even get fucking re-elected" after a boom.

His comments come amid rising taxes on flights, ostensibly introduced by politicians to curb emissions. Green groups also want a levy imposed on jet fuel. Aviation causes 6.3 per cent of UK emissions but is rising rapidly along with the growth in popularity of budget travel and could represent Britain's entire "sustainable" carbon by 2050, according to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Of air passenger duty, which will rise by between £1 and £30 in November, Mr O'Leary said: "When they introduced it the Treasury said: 'We will ring-fence this money and use it for global climate change initiatives'. We've written to them once every six months - they never answer the letter - saying: 'What do you use the money for?' It's a straight-forward tax scam... My average fare is £34. I pay passenger tax of £10: I pay 33 per cent of my revenues in these aviation taxes."

"Aviation gets a crap deal. This is the great historical justification among environmentalists for taxing air travel: 'They don't have tax on fuel'. The only reason we don't pay tax on fuel is that governments can't tax it because you'll upload fuel somewhere else if they tax it."

To date, the US, UK, Germany, Japan, India, and China have all agreed on the existence of global warming, but have failed to agree binding emission targets to limit it. More than 2,500 scientists contributed to the IPCC's fourth assessment report in 2007, which warned that freak weather events such as flooding and drought will intensify, threatening agriculture and the livelihoods of millions.

Greenpeace issued a light-hearted response to Mr O'Leary's comments. "Personally, I wouldn't trust 'O'Really' to tell me the price of a seat on his own airline, but to be fair his position does have the support of such intellectual heavyweights as Nick Griffin, Sarah Palin and George W Bush," said Joss Garman, a Greenpeace spokesman.

O'Leary's views: A rebuttal

O'Leary:  "The climate has been changing since time immemorial. Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it's all a load of bullshit."

Dr Emily Shuckburgh, of the British Antarctic Survey:  "Over tens of thousands of years, the orbit of the Earth about the Sun slowly varies, and with it the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. When the orbit is such that the radiation dips low enough, it triggers an ice age. Since the Earth has not suddenly jumped into a different orbit in the past century, a different mechanism must explain the recent increase in global temperatures."

O'Leary:  "It used to be global warming but now, when global temperatures haven't risen in the past 12 years, they say 'climate change'."

Dr Shuckburgh:  "It is wrong to say global warming has stopped in the past 12 years. The weather changes day to day, and even when the temperature is averaged globally and over a full year, there are still considerable variations from year to year. When this is taken into account, no reduction is found in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20C per decade."

O'Leary:  "There's absolutely no link between man-made carbon - which contributes less than 2 per cent of total carbon emissions, most of it is naturally emitted - [and] climate change."

Dr Shuckburgh:  "Vast amounts of carbon are exchanged each year back and forth between the land, oceans and atmosphere - some 200 GtC/yr [GigaTons of Carbon per year] are naturally emitted and 200 GtC/yr are naturally reabsorbed. Man is now emitting more than 8GtC/yr, about half of which remains in the atmosphere. The impact has been significant. Before the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels were about 280ppmv [parts per million by volume]. Man-made emissions have increased that to nearly 390ppmv."

O'Leary:  "The same [scientific] community was telling us in the mid-1970s the world was heading into a new ice age. I mean, it is absolutely bizarre that the people who can't tell us what the weather is next Tuesday can predict with absolute precision what the global temperatures will be in 100 years' time."

Dr Shuckburgh:  "Of course it is not possible to predict with precision the weather in 100 years. But we can characterise - to within a range - the long-term climate trend that underlies the chaotic weather."

O'Leary:  "The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] is a load of utter tosh."

Dr Shuckburgh:  "The facts are that errors in the IPCC's fourth assessment report were identified and acknowledged, and the fundamental findings of the report were unaltered. This valuable scrutiny has strengthened, not discredited, the conclusions."

O'Leary:  "The only [IPCC economic growth scenario] that gives rise to this inexorable rise of man-made CO2 emissions linked to climate change... is 7 per cent compound economic growth into infinity. That's already been torn up in the last two years. We've already had a worldwide decline."

Dr Shuckburgh:  "Carbon emissions do not have to rise inexorably for there to be climate change. If we stopped all emissions now, which is impossible, the temperature would increase for many years due to the emissions we have already made. Moreover, current CO2 emissions, even with the global recession, are in the mid to upper range of IPCC scenarios."


The Independent - 16 September 2010

Discredited claims of climate deniers

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary's interview (10 September) didn't disappoint. In his now familiar tone Mr O'Leary dismissed man-made climate change as "bullshit" and suggested a global conspiracy by thousands of scientists who are busy falsifying climate records, ice core samples, ancient tree rings, coral samples, satellite measurements and weather station data and turning the laws of science upside down in order to get research funding. He went on to trot out a myriad bogus claims, including making the basic error of comparing daily weather with long-term climate trends.

Mr O'Leary's claims are similar to those peddled by other high-profile climate change deniers, but which have been comprehensively discredited by peer-reviewed science. The same laws of physics that keep Ryanair aircraft in the air (whether being flown by one pilot or two) tell us that the greenhouse gas emissions coming out of the back of their engines contribute to man-made climate change.

Airlines have a clear interest in delaying environmental initiatives and, as the tobacco industry eventually conceded, what is good for shareholders is not necessarily good for other people.

Jarlath Molloy
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London

Aviation fuel tax could cut emissions

Michael O'Leary's anti-green rants are becoming increasingly embarrassing. Stringing together a list of climate change denying non-facts from the bonkers anti-science blogosphere is plane stupid.

Intelligent and informed atmospheric science tells us that aviation's CO2 emissions are at least twice that of CO2 alone, because of other exhaust gases, condensation trails and induced cloud formation, making Ryanair's 2009 emissions a grand total of 10,175,432 tonnes CO2 equivalent. While this may be good for Ryanair, it is seriously harming the planet.

I'm not suggesting Ryanair should be closed down or O'Leary silenced, although a period of quiet reflection from him would be welcome. If O'Leary's fuel bill (currently tax-free everywhere they fly) included tax at the same rate as cars, Ryanair's growth rate would be halved and his airline's CO2 emissions might be stabilised or even start falling.

And slower growth could well generate higher, more consistent profits and shareholder dividends.

Jeff Gazzard
Board Member, Aviation Environment Federation, London EC4

Nobody believed the Earth was flat

Not being an expert on the subject, I cannot comment on Michael O'Leary's claims about climate change, but I can tell you that his claim regarding scientists of Galileo's time believing the Earth was flat is incorrect.

Since the 3rd century BC, the overwhelming majority of educated people in the West have believed the Earth to be spherical: and that includes both scientists and priests.

The American Scientific Affiliation has published a paper which traces the origin of the flat-earth myth to a novel by Irving Washington, and a paper written by Antoine-Jean Letronne, who attempted to discredit the Church by spreading the same falsehood.

James Ingram
London SE1


ENDS Europe DAILY - 17 September 2010

Delegates at a meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva this week have called for a global sectoral agreement on climate at the next meeting of the 190-nation International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The ICAO meeting will take place in Montreal between 28 September and 8 October. Governments there will discuss the first sectoral deal to cut CO2, and consider several mitigating measures including market-based approaches and alternative fuels.

The industry has set three targets including a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency to 2020 and a goal of capping net emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth. But these cannot be met without a policy framework addressing emissions, flight paths and biofuels, the Geneva conference heard.

"In the next ten years, the industry will spend $1.3trn for 12,000 new aircraft," IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani told the conference. "Each of these will be 20-25% more fuel efficient than their predecessors." He said biofuels are moving closer to certification for commercial use. Five airlines have already tested their use.

Mr Bisignani urged governments to avoid "uncoordinated measures" that would make carbon mitigation ineffective. "We must continue to oppose regional and national emissions trading schemes and taxes that take billions from the industry but do nothing to improve environmental performance," he said.

Speaking to the IATA conference, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres confirmed that the UNFCCC's principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) would not conflict with the ICAO's principle of universality for aviation. Last year, ICAO member states failed to agree on specific climate goals.


Our MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst, has been raising questions
concerning Stansted airport

14 September 2010


Aviation: Climate Change

Sir Alan Haselhurst:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to respond to the December 2009 report of the Committee on Climate Change on meeting the UK Aviation Target. [15211]

Mrs Villiers:  I refer my right hon. Friend to my answer of 8 July 2010.

Aviation: Exhaust Emissions

Mr Bain:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to respond to the Committee on Climate Change's advice on the 2050 carbon dioxide emissions target for aviation. [4975]

Mrs Villiers:  We are committed to reducing emissions from transport and to ensuring we have the right framework in place for aviation to contribute to the UK's climate stabilisation goals. We will consider the detail of policy and announce our conclusions on the best way to achieve our aims in due course.

Heathrow airport

Zac Goldsmith:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether the Noise Action Plan for Heathrow Airport will include a 55dB(A) Lden noise level target; [13904]

(2) whether the European Commission has agreed that the Noise Action Plan for Heathrow Airport does not have to be revised until 2015; [13905]

(3) when he plans to publish the Noise Action Plan for Heathrow Airport. [13906]

Mrs Villiers:  Following submission of Heathrow airport's draft noise action plan, officials from both the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) met with airport representatives to discuss the draft. As a result, Heathrow airport is currently preparing a revised plan for further consideration. Once the plan has been formally adopted by Government, it will be published on both DEFRA's and the airport's website by the end of 2010.

The Noise Action Plans are required by EC law to cover a five-year period. The scope for the second stage of implementation of EC directive 2002/49 (the environmental noise directive) has yet to be determined.

Major airports in England have been encouraged to include an annual review as part of their plan rather than reviewing the plan after five years. In the case of Heathrow, the airport is also proposing to make the plan subject to independent audit.

Airports were required to produce strategic noise maps covering a range of metrics including Lden. While the directive requires airports to include provisions for evaluating the effect of actions proposed in the plan, there is no specific requirement for an Lden target. However Heathrow, in common with other airports, is understood to be considering the use of annual and forecast noise contours as an evaluation measure.

London Airports: Night Flying

Sir Alan Haselhurst:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what timescale he has set for his Department's consultation on the night flying restrictions for Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted for the period 2012 to 2017; [15206]

(2) whether the night flying restrictions for Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted for the period 2012 to 2017 will include measures to reduce the effects of night noise on local communities in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation. [15207]

Mrs Villiers:  There have been restrictions on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for many years. The Government fully recognise the importance of the protections afforded by these restrictions for communities affected by airport noise. The restrictions are subject to periodic review. The current regime introduced in June 2006 runs until October 2012. An announcement about the scope of proposals for post 2012 arrangements will be made in due course.

Sir Alan Haselhurst:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider the merits of adding Luton to the controlled night noise regime for London airports by making it a designated airport. [15208]

Mrs Villiers:  The Government fully recognise the importance of the need to protect communities affected by aircraft noise. Noise control measures including restrictions on night flights at the three London strategic airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) have been in place for many years. Elsewhere we believe that airports should engage actively with their communities in determining what noise control measures provide the right local solution. This process has recently been strengthened by the requirement for airports to develop and publish noise action plans in consultation with communities living around airports. These plans and the associated consultation process will play a central role in ensuring that airports mitigate against noise at a local level.

Road Traffic

Eric Ollerenshaw:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the cost of traffic congestion to business. [13852]

Norman Baker:  The 2006 Eddington Study estimated the costs imposed by congestion to business and other travellers, using the Department for Transport's National Transport Model. It was found that the direct costs to business of congestion in England were approximately £7 billion (in 2003, at 2002 prices). This figure is based on the difference between the actual time taken to make a journey and the time that would be taken under theoretical 'free- flow' conditions. It does not necessarily represent the net benefit that would result from removing congestion.

16th September 2010 House of Commons - Written Answers

Sir Alan Haselhurst:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects his Department to publish revised forecasts for passenger numbers for Stansted and other airports in the South East over the period to 2030; and whether these will include detailed projections for each airport. [15210]

Mrs Villiers:  The Department for Transport published forecasts of the number of air passengers using UK airports, including Stansted Airport, most recently in "UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts 2009". The Department keeps its forecasts under review and will publish updated forecasts as appropriate.

Sir Alan Haselhurst:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish the results of the consultation on the Noise Action Plan for Stansted Airport; and what the reason is for the time taken to publish the plan. [15212]

Mrs Villiers:  The draft noise action plans submitted by airports have been subject to scrutiny by the Department for Transport (DFT) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to ensure that they meet the requirements of the EU Environmental Noise Directive as set out in DEFRA's March 2009 guidance to airport operators. This guidance requires airports to include details of their local public consultation and how issues raised have been addressed in the draft plan.

Following submission of Stansted airport's draft noise action plan, officials from both the DFT and DEFRA met with airport representatives to discuss the draft. Stansted airport submitted a further draft plan on 27 August for consideration. This draft is currently being given further scrutiny and we expect to take a decision on formal adoption shortly. Once the plan has been formally adopted by Government, it will be published on both DEFRA's and the airport's website.

Sir Alan Haselhurst:  To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will visit the communities around Stansted Airport to discuss issues of planning blight and community reconstruction. [15214]

Mrs Villiers:  Unfortunately while Department's officials and I will continue to remain in close contact with my right hon. Friend and local residents on any issues of concern. to diary commitments, neither the Secretary nor I have any immediate plans to visit the communities around Stansted.


Pilita Clark, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 13 September 2010

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary has for years endured complaints from passengers about his famously no-frills Irish airline.

Now a senior Ryanair pilot has taken the rare step of publicly challenging his boss after the outspoken chief executive said he was trying to convince authorities to let his aircraft fly with only one pilot. A flight attendant could do the job of a co-pilot if needed, Mr O'Leary said last week, because "the computer does most of the flying now".

Captain Morgan Fischer, who trains other pilots at Ryanair's Marseilles base, says he knows the airline is dedicated to keeping its costs as low as possible, so why not go one better - and replace Mr O'Leary with a junior flight attendant. "I would propose that Ryanair replace the CEO with a probationary cabin crew member currently earning approximately ?13,200 net per annum," Capt Fischer has written in a letter to the Financial Times, which reported Mr O'Leary's comments last week

"Ryanair would benefit by saving millions of euros in salary, benefits and stock options," the captain said, and there would be no need for approval from the authorities.

Mr O?Leary quibbled with some of Capt Fischer's numbers but, in characteristically mischievous mode, he effected to agree with some of his points. "Michael thinks that cabin crew would make a far more attractive CEO than him - this obviously isn't a very high bar - so we are going to seriously look at the suggestion," said Stephen McNamara, a Ryanair spokesman. "After all, if we can train cabin crew to land the plane, it should be no problem training them to do Michael's job as well."

Capt Fischer, 41, who has been based in Marseilles for the past five years and has 20 years' flying experience, mostly with TWA and American Airlines, declined to comment further on Monday.

Mr O'Leary is well known for his ability to generate headlines with eye-catching ideas, from coin-operated lavatories to "fat taxes". But his thoughts on ditching co-pilots - first raised in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview earlier this month - seem to have struck a sensitive nerve among some. Ryanair employees have complained to the media in the past, but most have done so anonymously.

Seeing a pilot publicly poke fun at Mr O'Leary, as Capt Fischer has done, is "extremely unique", said Capt Evan Cullen, president of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association, who has also written to the FT about Mr O'Leary's comments.

Capt Cullen was provoked by Mr O'Leary's suggestion that, in 25 years, Ryanair had had only one pilot who had suffered a heart attack in flight, "and he landed the plane".

Capt Cullen said Mr O'Leary must have been referring to a 2002 incident in Belgium when a pilot collapsed with a heart attack shortly after take-off from Charleroi airport south of Brussels. A doctor on board who assisted the pilot described him as "clinically dead", according to a report by Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit, and the co-pilot had to return the aircraft to the airport. "The safety implications are obvious, as is the reason for having two qualified pilots in the cockpit," said Capt Cullen.

Mr McNamara said this was not the incident Mr O'Leary had been referring to, "although the fact that the first officer landed the aircraft without incident underlines the fact that a first officer in the cabin, or a suitably-trained cabin crew, could readily land an aircraft in such an emergency".

He said the issue at stake was that aircraft were now heavily automated, and with more than 500,000 flights a year the second pilot was rarely, if ever, called on to land in an emergency.

Some safety experts disagree. "It is true that aircraft are far safer today than ever before and many of the processes have been automated," said Paul Hayes, air safety director at Ascend aviation consultancy. "But in a high work-load situation, say an instrument approach in congested air space or in an emergency, I'd still like to have a pilot and co-pilot working together as a team."


Pilita Clark - Financial Times - 13 September 2010

Ryanair's success is extraordinary, not just for an airline but for any business. It has grown from a tiny outfit in 1985 flying 5,000 passengers a year between Ireland and London in a single aircraft, to an operation with more than 200 aircraft flying about 70m passengers a year to roughly 160 destinations.

When Michael O'Leary took over in 1994, he aggressively expanded the airline into a highly profitable operation. Only four airlines in the world carry more passengers. British Airways ranks 18th.

BA has, however, lost almost £1bn over the past two years in a downturn that has seen airlines round the world slip into the red. Ryanair did lose ?180.5m the year before last, but made a pre-tax profit of ?341m in the 12 months to the end of March this year, making it one of the most profitable carriers in Europe.


Readers' Letters - Financial Times - 13 September 2010

Sir, I would like to share with you a cost-saving suggestion I have proposed to the Ryanair board ("Ryanair's talk of spree on aircraft casts cloud over dividend hopes", September 8). I write in my capacity as a B737-800 line training captain assigned to Ryanair's Marseilles, France base. My primary job responsibility involves the line training and checking of co-pilots and captains on both an initial and a recurrent basis.

As a Ryanair employee, I am aware of the company's desire to reduce costs whenever feasible, and, in so doing, pass on these lower costs in the form of lower fares to the travelling public.

I would propose that Ryanair replace the chief executive with a probationary cabin crew member currently earning about ?13,200 net a year. Ryanair would benefit by saving millions of euros in salary, benefits and stock options. Further, there will be no need to petition either Boeing or governmental aviation regulators for approval to replace the CEO with a cabin crew member; as such approval would not be required.

Finally, the position of CEO could, in fact, become a source of ancillary revenue for Ryanair. Currently, Ryanair's contract cabin crew providers charge new recruits for the cost of their training - ?3,000 in fact. Ryanair could similarly charge ?3,000 for the training required to become chief executive.

Captain Morgan Fischer
LTC, Ryanair/Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, France


Mark Prigg blog - This is London - 13 September 2010

Ryanair has long hinted at "standing room only" flights, but a US firm has finally designed a seat that could finally allow budget airlines to cram more passengers in.

The aeroplane seat, to be unveiled next week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas, is based on a saddle. Passengers sit at an angle with no more than 23 inches between their seat and the one in front.

"We feel extremely confident that this concept will have great appeal to airlines for economic purposes," says Dominique Menoud, director-general of Aviointeriors Group.


The Government has set up a new committee to review the situation in the aviation industry. Terms of reference are published on the DfT website.

Terms of Reference
the need to promote a competitive aviation industry and to support UK economic growth;
the Government's commitments to a low-carbon economy and to reducing local environmental impacts of aviation, including noise;
the Government's policy not to support new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports, but to improve the performance of airports for those who use them;

The South East Airports Taskforce will:
Review and understand the existing runway, terminal and other capacity constraints at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, taking account of demand for air travel and the Government?s commitment to a low-carbon and eco-friendly economy;
Identify and investigate options for making best use of this capacity, including scope for improving airport efficiency, reducing delays, greater reliability and enhancing the passenger experience to, from and within the airport, whilst having regard to the local environmental implications of any measures;
Investigate how best to capture and respond to passenger concerns at an airport level;
Input into separate work already in hand to look at security and border controls;
Develop a programme of action, whether by Government or the parties, by July 2011, including early action and measures for the longer term.

The Aviation Minister will chair the Taskforce meetings and the initial membership will include one:
BAA representative for Heathrow and one for Stansted
GIP representative for Gatwick
Representative from Civil Aviation Authority
Representative from National Air Traffic Services
Representative from British Airways
Representative from Virgin Atlantic
Representative from easyJet
Representative from Ryanair
Representative from Air Transport Users Council
Representative from London First
Representative from Aviation Environment Federation
Representative from Airport Operators Association

There may be a requirement for further industry and government members as the group?s detailed work programme develops.

Other Attendees
Private Office
Paper authors - in attendance during discussion of their papers
Secretariat from Airports Policy Division

Conduct of Business
Meetings will normally be held every 2 months;
The deadline for receipt of papers will be five working days before each meeting. A briefing pack will be collated by the Secretariat and circulated to members no less than two working days before the meeting;
Meetings will be minuted and decisions recorded and, once agreed, published on DfT?s website;
When absent, group members may send substitutes where necessary and where reports need representing;
If unable to attend, the Minister of State will nominate the Director General of International Networks and the Environment or the Director of Aviation to chair the meeting;
The group may establish sub-groups, as necessary, to handle detailed issues. These groups will have their own terms of reference, as agreed, and report to the Taskforce at each meeting;
The group will be supported by a secretariat from the Airports Policy Division in DfT.


Stansted Airport noise issue: the facts

Nick Thompson, Reporter - Dunmow Broadcast - 9 September 2010

Andy Jefferson speaks at a recent noise conference

Airports may be getting louder, but could it be that as aircraft get bigger, the skies over homes in Uttlesford actually become quieter? The question is an interesting one, so reporter Nick Thompson went along to meet BAA's head of environment Dr Andy Jefferson at Stansted Airport to find out.

"STANSTED is one of the only airports in the world that fines airlines for breaking sound rules by flying off track," says Dr Jefferson with a smile.

He is smiling because, although he works for the third busiest airport in the UK, he is very passionate about environmental issues and is proud of the groundbreaking work Stansted is conducting into noise and in-flight tracking.

Eager to dispel many myths about aircraft noise Dr Jefferson works with community leaders as part of the Noise and Track Keeping Working Group and also, importantly, with airline pilots on how to reduce noise above homes.

"I am the go-between," he said. "If we get ideas from residents on how to reduce noise in an area we will always look into it and liaise with both groups to try and form a solution."

Stansted has been piloting numerous track-keeping and sound initiatives in an effort to be a "good neighbour" to the quiet villages and towns that surround the airport.

Most recently, a scheme to route aircraft directly between the villages of Hatfield Broad Oak and Hatfield Heath has been successful. As one of six departure routes, the track between the two villages has attracted the most complaints in recent weeks - mainly due to perceived aircraft noise.

However, according to data, many of the rants about aircraft flying lower and louder than ever before are not correct. "There are a few myths when it comes to noise," said Dr Jefferson. "Often complaints come from the people that actually listen for aircraft, rather than those that get disturbed by them."

"Our biggest challenge is trying to find the solutions to the real problems. Our track-keeping projects, like the one over Hatfield Broad Oak, is unique in that the airport is making a real effort to route aircraft very very precisely to reduce noise."

Dr Jefferson admitted that the airport has got nosier over the last ten years, and will probably continue to, but that fact is down to the amount of aircraft using it. Flight data shows that whilst more aircraft take-off now, each individual aircraft is on average far quieter.

And, according to the Dr Jefferson, the advances in engine technology and aircraft design means that more residents living around the airport can look forward to quieter skies in the future.

Some airlines have changed to fly more fuel-efficient take-off procedures - a move that was heralded as a huge environmental success. But, after concerns from residents, environmental bosses under the guidance of Dr Jefferson agreed to pilot the new flight path procedures.

He said: "We are in a rural area and so there is not much other noise around. No M25 like Heathrow, no big cities. It makes aircraft more obvious. Stansted and its airlines worked together for over the six months to develop the tracking procedure for the Hatfield's. It really is groundbreaking work and shows how far technology has moved on. We're now looking to pilot further trials following consultation with communities and naturally, we'll report the findings back to residents."

Stansted facts
* The airport does not have the longest runway in the country contrary to popular belief
* Air Asia X, Stansted's only long haul carrier, fly airbus A340s not jumbo jets, they are more modern and quieter
* There have always been night flights at Stansted but there is a limit to the amount and the nosiest planes are not legally allowed to operate

OUR COMMENT: This BAA article in the Dunmow Broadcast could look quite good until it's decoded:

"STANSTED is one of the only airports in the world that fines airlines for breaking sound rules by flying off track."
The sound rules are those enforced at only two specific locations, one in Gt Hallingbury and one in Broxted. And they only apply to aircraft taking-off, not landing. Sound is not measured anywhere else in the whole region around the airport and nor are there any rules for it. The permitted sound levels at Gt Hallingbury and Broxted are set so high that it's almost impossible to break them. During 2009, there were only 28 sound rule infringements, whereas there were 2,125 noise complaints. Furthermore the level of the fine is set so low at £500 that it is not a deterrent and, in the case of Air Asia X, BAA has been paying the fines anyway. The only time that airlines are fined for flying off track is during the initial phase of take-off. Nowhere else are there any off track rules and aircraft rarely infringe the take-off rules. Aircraft are not deemed to be off track anywhere else in the region. Again the level of fine at £500 for flying off track on take-off is derisory.

"Most recently, a scheme to route aircraft directly between the villages of Hatfield Broad Oak and Hatfield Heath has been successful."
This scheme arose from the fact that the low cost airlines changed their take-off procedure thereby visiting more noise on these two villages. The new route is so far only a trial. While the trial has reduced the noise a little, the levels are certainly not reduced to those prior to the change of take-off procedure. In any case, Civil Aviation Authority approval is needed before this new route can be put into operation and currently this approval has been refused.

"Dr Jefferson admitted that the airport has got nosier over the last ten years, and will probably continue to, but that fact is down to the amount of aircraft using it."

"Some airlines have changed to fly more fuel-efficient take-off procedures - a move that was heralded as a huge environmental success."
The airlines have done this to save money not emissions. In any case it only saves an average of 6½ kg of fuel per flight which is peanuts and equivalent to a saving of two pence per passenger. But it has resulted in a large increase of noise which is the reason for the storm of complaints from Hatfield Heath and Hatfield Broad Oak residents. Definitely not a huge environmental success.

"We are in a rural area and so there is not much other noise around. No M25 like Heathrow, no big cities. It makes aircraft more obvious."
Exactly. We enjoy low levels of background noise in this area which helps to make it a pleasant place to live. Every aircraft is noisy and is therefore more intrusive against these low background noise levels.

There is no such thing as a quiet aircraft. And more aircraft will be more noisy. And yet BAA is bent on increasing the number of aircraft. And not just BAA - when the NATS TCN proposed airspace changes are published later this year, it is likely to put more planes over us from Luton, London City and Northolt airports.

Pat Dale


Readers' Letters - Saffron Walden Reporter - 2 September 2010

PETER Riding states in his letter (August 26) that the larger aircraft that will visit Stansted in the not too distant future will be "noisier than over 80 per cent of the planes currently using Stansted". I respectfully have to disagree with him on this.

The worlds largest aeroengine manufacturers, including our own Rolls-Royce, have spent millions in their successful quest to produce the most fuel-efficient and more importantly, quietest jet engines ever made, and it is these very engines powering these larger aircraft.

It must be obvious to many in this area who notice overflights of jets going to/from Stansted that the gentle rumble of these larger aircraft is far quieter than the noise produced by the smaller aircraft so beloved by some of the low-cost carriers in their very frequent overflights of this area.

The noise produced by both the A380 and 747-800 is less still than the large wide body types of today.

I spent 22 years working in the aviation industry and yes, I did oppose Stansted's proposed second runway, as in my opinion it is not needed.

Ironically, it will be these new larger type of aircraft that will help reduce the overall noise generated by the airport and in the longer term, help to reduce the total number of flights, night movements included.

That will surely be good news for everyone.

Neil Newman
Saffron Walden


Readers' Letters - Saffron Walden Reporter - 9 September 2010

Peter Riding is correct in saying that the new Boeing 747-800 will be noisier than over 80% of the planes currently using Stansted. Indeed, so is the Airbus 380 super-jumbo.

Aircraft certified noise figures are provided by all aircraft manufacturers and are given as effective perceived noise levels measured in decibels. Both these large planes are noisier than the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 series of aircraft used by the low cost carriers such as Ryanair and Easyjet, which account for the vast majority of Stansted traffic.

While aircraft have become less noisy than the 707 and DC8 in the early 1980s, they are still inherently noisy machines. A modern jet on take-off emits around 140 decibels, which is at the threshold of pain, and exposure to this level of noise would cause permanent hearing damage. It is about 10 times louder than a pneumatic road drill or 250 times louder than normal conversation.

Martin Peachey
Noise Spokesman, Stop Stansted Expansion


Readers' Letters - Financial Times - 8 September 2010

Sir, Before the EU starts work on a carbon border tax as Dieter Helm suggests ("A carbon border tax can curb climate change" September 6), it would do well to simply get rid of a few glaring tax exemptions on the most carbon-intensive industries.

One such industry is aviation: free of both fuel taxes and value added tax in the EU yet by far the most carbon-intensive form of transport. There is an opportunity to right both wrongs this year as the European Commission is set to review both the energy taxation and VAT directives.

Meanwhile, three major airlines are currently attacking the planned inclusion of aviation in the EU's emissions trading scheme through the courts. The impact of bringing aviation into the ETS is equivalent to 1 cent on a litre of kerosene. That looks absurd compared with the average 46 cent tax on petrol and diesel in the EU. Plenty of room then for the commission to set a minimum level of kerosene tax as it already does for road fuel.

As for VAT, the current exemption is blatantly unfair, and makes EU climate policy needlessly inefficient. The European Commission said in 2005 that the VAT derogation covering airline tickets should be abolished. Five years ago it was a smart idea; in the current economic climate it's a no-brainer.

Bill Hemmings
Transport & Environment, Brussels, Belgium

OUR COMMENT: The present position is clearly unsatisfactory, especially when severe cost cutting is being imposed on public spending. Our tax adviser points out that the current tax free price ex Rotterdam is 33p/litre for unleaded low sulphur petrol ('ULSP') and 35p/litre for aviation fuel. After transport costs and profit margins, the tax free price at the pumps is probably about 45p for both products. The motorist pays 57p/litre fuel duty (rising to 58p/litre on 1 October) which increases the pump price of ULSP to £1.02. VAT adds another 17.5% (20% from 1 Jan 2011) making the pump price about £1.19/litre for the motorist but still only 45p/litre for the airline. In fact, with bulk discounts and long term contracts, the price is probably closer to 40p/litre for a large airline.

Even the last government recognised that this anomalous situation could not be justified but under the 1944 Chicago Convention, no national government is allowed to levy taxes on aviation fuel used for international travel. Fuel tax and VAT could be charged on domestic flights and on intra-EU flights if both member states agree; none have so far agreed. Some countries do charge fuel duty on domestic flights, including the US, Canada and Japan (all at very low rates - a cent or two per gallon) and some EU countries apply VAT to domestic air tickets.

Pat Dale


Ends Europe Daily - 1 September 2010

Germany's cabinet on Wednesday approved a tax on air passengers and lower eco-tax reductions for manufacturers and farmers. But it postponed a decision on a planned tax on nuclear-fuel rods until later this month.

The measures are part an austerity programme announced in June, which is meant to reduce the budget deficit by ?80bn by 2014.

Passengers boarding flights in Germany will be charged ?8 for each domestic flight, ?25 for medium-haul and ?45 for long-haul flights. Transfer services and cargo flights are not affected.

It remains unclear whether the tax will be phased out when aviation joins the emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) in 2012, as previously announced. Combined revenues from the levy and CO2 trading are expected to amount to ?1bn annually. The impact of the tax will be reviewed by mid-2012.

On Monday, a study by Michael Kloepfer of Berlin's Humboldt University concluded that the duty could breach both the German constitution and European law. The study was commissioned by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, home to an airport used by low-cost carriers that would be heavily affected by the tax.

The government also reduced tax breaks for manufacturing industries and farmers from an eco-tax on fuel and energy. This measure is expected to generate revenues of ?1bn in 2010 and ?1.5bn annually in 2011-14. After protests from industry, the tax increase was lowered compared with earlier drafts.

The bill must be approved by the Bundestag, where the government holds a safe majority. The upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has the power to delay the bill but not block it indefinitely.


Richard Godwin - London Evening Standard - 1 September 2010

It is one of the dimmer clichés to contend that ooh, it's a bit chilly - so much for global warming!

A GLOBALISED world needs a globalised nightmare - and in climate change, we have just such a spectre. Two reports, released ahead of the Cancun international summit on climate change in November, warn of worldwide catastrophe if we fail to improve on the piddling carbon agreements reached at Copenhagen last year.

Should we fail to act, the Earth could warm 3.5C by 2100, leading to "deadly heatwaves" and "tropical storms of undreamed-of ferocity", in the words of one environmental activist, who stops just short of predicting a plague of frogs for Oxford Street come 2134.

And yet for most - even those of us who are inclined to take the scientific consensus on trust - climate change remains a vague threat, a mildly aggressive demand from HM Revenue & Customs that you hide in a drawer. Or a potato left forgotten in a cupboard that sprouts in the dark, and when you open the cupboard there is a horrible rooty growth pointing its revolting fibrous finger at you.

Forgive me - the potato thing actually happened to me the other week and I am finding it hard to remove the image from my mind. But it is the huge, troubling nature of the potato - sorry, climate change - that terrifies us into distraction.

In this light, it becomes easier to account for public scepticism - 97.4 per cent of experts consider that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures, as opposed to 58 per cent of the public. It is one of the dimmer clichés to contend that ooh, it's a bit chilly - so much for global warming! Then, it is also a question of what is observable to those with no specialist knowledge.

And so the greater the indifference, the more colourful the warnings - and the more bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are inclined to sex up reports of impending calamity. In turn, environmentalism can come to seem more like a religion than a science - and with its cult of denial, inherited guilt and daily acts of penitence, it certainly has many of the trappings. To dismiss sceptics as "deniers", as if to raise the charge to the level of Holocaust denial, introduces an awkward moral element.

It is hard to see that as helpful. It gives scientists the look of doomy proselytisers - and clouds the fact that there is actually far less disagreement among them than is generally reported.

Surely, however, the biggest damage is done by the politicians who make laughable concessions of fractions of percentage points and put the potato back in the cupboard, so to speak? But perhaps that begins with a more fundamental rethink - such as acknowledging that an economic system based on infinite growth is simply not compatible with a finite planet.


This is London - 8 September 2010

Labour leadership front runner David Miliband today resurrected the idea of a third runway at Heathrow.

He believes that it could boost London's economy and businesses, sources close to him insisted, and it should go ahead as long as the climate change consequences are addressed. His leadership rival and brother Ed opposes the runway.

He has repeatedly said that Labour's Heathrow policy was an example of how the party had misjudged the public. But business groups and trade unions have long lobbied for more aviation capacity for the south east, claiming it boosts jobs and overall trade.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of business group London First praised Mr Miliband. She said: "At last a politician prepared to publicly acknowledge the vital importance of international transport links to London and UK's economic success, though the critical question is not whether to make Heathrow bigger but how to make it better."

But Greenpeace transport campaigner, Vicky Wyatt, said: "The third runway, like the Iraq war, is one of the iconic failed policies of Labour's 13 years in power - a good solid example of where they lost the argument and lost peoples' trust."

"David Miliband's decision to offer his continued support to Heathrow expansion makes no sense politically, economically and environmentally, and will no doubt damage his support amongst Londoners."


Ryanair has continued to outstrip budget airline rival easyJet in passenger growth as both cut-price carriers reaped the benefits from buoyant holiday traffic last month.

Roland Gribben - The Telegraph - 8 September 2010

The two airlines sold 12.88m seats in August, an increase of 10.5pc on a year earlier. Ryanair claimed the lion's share of the business with growth up 12pc to 7.88m against easyJet's total of 5.2m, an increase of 8.4pc.

EasyJet filled more of its seats achieving a 92.3pc load factor, up half a point against Ryanair's 89pc, down one point on a year ago. Over the 12 month period easyJet has seen passenger numbers rise 7.7pc to 48.4m and the load factor 1.5 points to 86.9pc. Ryanair was up 13.6pc to 70.9m but the proportion of empty seats rose eight points to 82pc.

The Ryanair figures have been inflated by the inclusion of 1.45m passengers who were booked on flights but unable to fly because of what the Irish carrier describes as the "unnecessary closures" of EU airspace during the Icelandic volcanic ash episode which cost the airline ?50m (£42m).

Ryanair has been accused of dragging its feet over meeting ash compensation payments. It has paid ticket refunds but says completing the processing of expenses claims covering hotel accommodation and subsistence will take until the end of the year.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive, said he was cautious about the outlook for the rest of the year after releasing first-quarter figures in July and predicting fare increases averaging 10pc-15pc in the second quarter.

He has maintained Ryanair's lead in the publicity stakes by suggesting there was no need for two pilots in an aircraft and that cabin crew could be trained to take over in the event of an emergency while peace has broken out at EasyJet with an accommodation over growth plans between founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the board.

Eurotunnel has also chalked up new records with the number of cars carried on passengers shuttles over the two month peak holiday period to end August up 17pc on a year earlier at 533,238. A new daily record was set on August 14 when 14,825 cars and 150 coaches travelled both ways through the cross-Channel link.


Pilita Clark, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 7 September 2010

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary could be back in the market to buy up to 300 aircraft in a multibillion-dollar spend that could scupper investors' hopes of future dividends from the European budget airline.

He also revealed he is writing to aviation authorities for permission to use only one pilot per flight because he says co-pilots are unnecessary in modern jets where "the computer does most of the flying now".

Mr O'Leary said in an interview: "It would save the entire industry a fortune", adding that trains were allowed to have one driver even though this could conceivably cause a crash in the event of a heart attack.

He said: "In 25 years with over about 10m flights, we've had one pilot who suffered a heart attack in flight and he landed the plane".

He conceded that two pilots would be needed on long haul international flights but on Ryanair's shorter trips, flight attendants could do the job of a co-pilot, who was only there to "make sure the first fella doesn't fall asleep and knock over one of the computer controls".

Michael O'Leary's role as aviation industry provocateur - most recently by proposing to get rid of co-pilots - is a long-haul affair. By contrast, his flight of fancy as boss of a dividend-paying, ex-growth airline always looked more likely to be a short hop.

Now - as this column predicted when the Ryanair chief pulled out of a deal with Boeing in December - he is back on his fleet expansion drive.

Unless Mr O'Leary thinks it would be useful as a way of goading EasyJet's Sir Stelios Haji, Ryanair's mooted second special dividend looks as likely to be abolished as its second pilots are to be retained.

His comments come as the Dublin-based airline prepares to pay a ?500m (£414m) dividend next month - its first - after Mr O'Leary pulled out of a deal to buy 200 Boeing jets late last year.

He has held out the prospect of paying a second dividend in 2013, unless Ryanair found a better use for its growing pile of cash which, he said, might not happen.

This prompted some analysts to suggest he was finally reining back the airline's aggressive growth strategy that has seen it grow into a airline carrying twice as many passengers as older rivals such as British Airways.

He said: "All other things being equal, if we're still generating this amount of cash and we haven't found any acquisition or aircraft acquisition for it, then we would certainly consider a second dividend by about the end of 2013. But if I was a shareholder I wouldn't be banking on that yet."

He said he saw no airline on the market worth buying, but there was still the option of purchasing not just the 200 Boeing jets, worth about $15bn (£9.8bn) at advertised prices, but up to 300 from either Boeing or its rival, Airbus.

Ryanair had told both manufacturers in early summer that it could buy "200 to 300" aircraft if suitable prices and terms were offered, he said, though there were no negotiations at present.


Rail News Online - 7 September 2010

Plans to transform train services between Cambridge and London have taken a major step forward with Network Rail's submission of a planning application for a new island platform, complete with footbridge and lifts, at Cambridge station.

Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director, said: "Britain relies on rail to get more than 3m people to and from work every day and as passenger numbers continue to grow it is essential that we maintain investment in our rail network."

"The new platforms will make a real difference to passengers, boosting capacity on this busy line, improving punctuality and reducing overcrowding further still. Our improvements at Cambridge are part of a wider investment which will see the station and surrounding area transformed over the coming years."

The new platforms form part of train operator National Express East Anglia's plans to improve train services and increase capacity on the West Anglia route in 2011, including the introduction of new trains which are now under construction. Currently services between Cambridge and the capital are very busy and the existing track layout in and around the station is constrained, especially at peak times.

The addition of two new bi-directional platforms - numbered 7 and 8 - means trains will be able to arrive and depart in either direction, freeing up vital capacity on the existing platforms and making sure Cambridge can cater for additional rail services in the future.

A new covered footbridge and lifts will connect the new platforms to the rest of the station, making life easier for those who find the stairs a struggle. Following consultation with local cycling groups, the staircases will include cycle guttering to help cycle users move around the station.

The work at the station is part of a project which will see the West Anglia line between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street station capable of running 12-car trains by December 2011. Under this plan platforms are also being extended at Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Sawbridgeworth and Stansted Mountfitchet, with extensions at Stansted Airport funded by BAA.

Andrew Chivers, managing director of National Express East Anglia, said: "Improving the capacity at Cambridge station is an important element of our Service Improvement Programme which is designed to offer our customers a better train service and modern, new trains in 2011."


Continuing concerns over noise

Readers' Letters, Saffron Walden Reporter - 26 August 2010

No night flights

Nick Barton from BAA Stansted is quoted as saying that he is delighted the new Boeing 747-800 giant planes will soon be using the airport.

What he doesn't say is that these planes will be noisier than over 80 per cent of the planes currently using Stansted and also, being cargo planes, they are most likely to operate at night.

Larger, noisier planes flying at night is the last thing that people living in this area want. If BAA cared at all about its neighbours then it would gradually reduce night flights to emergencies only.

Peter Riding
Saffron Walden

OUR COMMENT: A reminder - below is a comparison of probable noise levels illustrated by Noise Quotas. These are used to set standards for night noise and show the relative extra noise that can be expected from much larger aircraft arriving and leaving by day or night. Remember, too, it takes longer for a large aircraft to climb so noise extends over a larger area round the airport.

Quota Count
QC 0.25
QC 0.5
QC 1
QC 2
Noise Band dB
84.0 - 86.9
87.0 - 89.9
90.0 - 92.9
93.0 - 95.9
Arrival319737 & 380747-800
319 & 737380 & 747-800

Pat Dale


Pollutocrats fly into Manchester onboard Emirates Airbus A380

Press Release - Manchester Airport Environment Network (MAEN) - 31 August 2010

Worst waste of water in the history of H2O!

Manchester/Dubai flight pumps 401 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, guzzles kerosene at 10.04 gallons per mile

On-board water load doubled so 14 first class passengers can have 5 minutes each in the shower at 35,000 feet!

This Wednesday September 1st 2010 sees the arrival of an Emirates Airbus A380 at Manchester, the world's largest passenger aircraft on its' first scheduled service from Ringway to Dubai. Touted as one of the "greenest" aircraft money can buy, Emirates, have ordered 90 A380s.

Airbus expects to sell more than 650 of these aircraft, the majority flying well into the 2040's. Manchester Airport has spent £10 million adapting the airport to handle aircraft this large.

But the impact all these new aircraft will have on the environment is far from benign, as Airbus, Emirates and Manchester Airport's PR flim-flam would have us believe: up to 1,300 new large aircraft like the A380 will be in our skies over the next 30 years and will contribute to an overall growing CO2 emission burden from air transport, a wholly negative addition that will only increase, not decrease, climate change impacts caused by our addiction to flying.

This is how much CO2 each aircraft will produce with both a full fuel load and flying Manchester to Dubai:

* Fuel capacity of the Airbus A380 is 131,000 litres
* Each litre of kerosene burnt results in 3.2 kilograms of CO2
* 419 tonnes of CO2 are emitted for each full fuel load
* Manchester/Dubai by A380 is around 4048 nautical miles = 127,224kg fuel consumed = 400,756 kg/401 tonnes of CO2
* That's a fuel consumption figure of 10.04 gallons per mile

Only publicising fuel efficiency figures per passenger kilometre, which is what Airbus do, could easily be misleading, given that kgs of CO2/passenger-km is a relative, not absolute, measure of how much carbon dioxide is being emitted, and could quite easily be going down even while overall emissions are going up. In other words, aircraft manufacturers and airlines could well be responsible for growing emissions even while becoming more efficient, simply by expanding the number of flights faster than the rise in efficiency.

Jeff Gazzard, MAEN spokesman, said: "There is no doubt that these aircraft are cheaper to operate because they use less fuel per passenger kilometre and are also cheaper to maintain due to their largely composite construction - good news for airlines as these economies make flying cheaper still and are used to aggressively grow the air transport industry with more aircraft flying more and more passengers to more destinations. But their environmental impact is a nightmare not a dream - this is not a green machine, it's an environment wrecker."

"The best the aircraft manufacturing industry and airlines can do is, as the A380 shows, produce efficiency gains of around 1-1.5% per year - but overall demand-led emissions growth is 4-5% per year. Result - air transport's climate change impacts get worse and worse year on year!"

"If we are serious about getting to grips with climate change, we have to start controlling and reducing the upwards curve of CO2 emissions from flying by taxing aircraft fuel and introducing tough demand management policies. We will all have to simply fly a bit less in the future."

Jeff Gazzard added: "Flying an extra 500 kilograms of water around so that 14 first class passengers can spend 5 minutes in one of the 2 onboard showers is simply the most extravagant waste of resources we've ever heard of! Emirates green credentials and efficiency boasts totally fall apart - doubling the onboard water load is nuts and equivalent to removing 5 passengers and their luggage from each flight. So much for efficiency! This has to be the single most environmentally-damaging waste of water ever in the history of H2O!!! Does Chanel not make an underarm deodorant these pollutocrats can buy and use to stay fresh whilst in the air for a few hours?"


ENDS Europe DAILY - 31 August 2010

The EU should stay away from binding limits and consider setting instead trigger values that would spark off the implementation of noise reduction measures set out in national action plans, a consortium of three consultancies has advised the EU.

The consultancies Milieu, Risk and Policy Analysis and TNO have completed a review of the EU's 2002 environmental noise directive for the European Commission. Their final reports an implementation review, an inventory of noise reduction measures, and policy recommendations were published late this month.

The consultants conclude that trigger values allow for the most cost-effective [noise reduction] measures to be adopted. Mandatory EU-wide limits would raise the political profile of environmental noise but be very costly and interfere with existing national rules. Most EU states already impose legally binding limit values and others are considering them.

The commission should consider making harmonised noise mapping methods compulsory, the consultants add, with derogations for member states on the grounds of excessive cost.

Measures to curb noise at source should be improved, the consultants say. For road traffic, reducing tyre and road interaction noise has high potential but requires tighter tyre regulations and better road maintenance.

In urban areas, plans for noise mitigation should be integrated with other planning. But forcing closer cooperation between action on noise and air quality is not recommended. The directive's text should be improved to clarify definitions such as quiet areas and major roads.

Poor quality data remains a big problem, the consultants warn. Action plans for areas with more than 250,000 people were due by January 2009, but only a small number have been finalised.

Member states' lack of expertise in noise mapping, coupled with strained financial resources, has hindered their progress on noise reduction. The consultants recommend additional guidance, workshops and training for member states to improve compliance.

In the absence of EU-wide noise limits or a legal requirement to implement noise action plans, however, some member states are questioning the ultimate purpose of the environmental noise directive.

OUR COMMENT: A mixed bag as far as local residents are concerned. What are the community considerations used when assessing the "cost effectiveness" of measures needed to lower noise levels?

Pat Dale


CBI to host climate change 'clash of the titans' debate

Former government chief scientist Sir David King, in the green corner,
to take on arch-sceptic Lord Lawson in public showdown

Juliette Jowit - The Guardian - 30 August 2010

The most prominent climate sceptic and the most vocal advocate of the cause in the UK are to take part in their first public debate on the subject.

The "clash of the titans" will be between Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Conservative chancellor and chairman of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Sir David King, a former government chief scientist who once warned that climate change was "more serious even than the threat of terrorism".

The CBI will host the event at its annual climate change conference in November, and it is likely to inject renewed vigour into a deadlocked debate between two camps that seldom meet face to face and appear to be increasingly entrenched in their positions.

King, head of the Smith school of enterprise and the environment at Oxford University, told the Guardian he had accepted the challenge because he was concerned about a rise in public scepticism about climate change since the affair of the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia last year. These appeared to show that scientists had manipulated data and abused the academic review process, though they were later cleared of these charges.

"It is important to deal with the climate sceptics' arguments and deal with them fairly robustly," said King. "I usually avoid the climate sceptics because I seem to be giving them airtime. [But] Lawson is a well-known speaker, so it is not as though I'm taking somebody lightweight on."

In a written statement, Lawson said: "I have agreed to do this because this is clearly an important issue which needs to be properly debated, and those who promote the conventional wisdom on the issue are usually reluctant to engage in rational debate. The cause of reasoned debate on this issue in the UK is not helped, of course, by the fact that there is no difference between the policies of the three political parties so far as global warming is concerned."

Lawson has previously written that he accepts that global warming is happening, although he has also described climate science as "particularly uncertain". In a recent article, he repeated the sceptics' argument: "So far this century there has been no recorded warming at all."

Lawson also claims the impacts on humans have been exaggerated and is critical of current policies to tackle the problem by cutting carbon emissions, writing that the international political pledge to limit warming to 2C above the average before the industrial revolution is "devoid of either scientific basis or the slightest operational significance", and advocating mass spending on adapting to the changes instead.

King said that with 2010 projected to be the hottest year on record, it was a good time publicly to counter the claim that temperatures are not rising: although most years since 1998 had been cooler than that record hot year, they were still among the hottest years on record and above the long-term average.

Emma Wild, the CBI's principal policy adviser for climate change, said: "Both are high-profile figures and passionate advocates for their views. We expect a frank and engaging debate."


'Sceptical environmentalist' and critic of climate scientists
to declare global warming a chief concern facing world

Juliette Jowit - The Guardian - 30 August 2010

The world's most high-profile climate change sceptic is to declare that global warming is "undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and "a challenge humanity must confront", in an apparent U-turn that will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby.

Bjørn Lomborg, the self-styled "sceptical environmentalist" once compared to Adolf Hitler by the UN's climate chief, is famous for attacking climate scientists, campaigners, the media and others for exaggerating the rate of global warming and its effects on humans, and the costly waste of policies to stop the problem.

But in a new book to be published next month, Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. "Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century," the book concludes.

Examining eight methods to reduce or stop global warming, Lomborg and his fellow economists recommend pouring money into researching and developing clean energy sources such as wind, wave, solar and nuclear power, and more work on climate engineering ideas such as "cloud whitening" to reflect the sun's heat back into the outer atmosphere.

In a Guardian interview, he said he would finance investment through a tax on carbon emissions that would also raise $50bn to mitigate the effect of climate change, for example by building better sea defences, and $100bn for global healthcare. His declaration about the importance of action on climate change comes at a crucial point in the debate, with international efforts to agree a global deal on emissions stalled amid a resurgence in scepticism caused by rows over the reliability of the scientific evidence for global warming.

The fallout from those rows continued yesterday when Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, came under new pressure to step down after an independent review of the panel's work called for tighter term limits for its senior executives and greater transparency in its workings. The IPCC has come under fire in recent months following revelations of inaccuracies in the last assessment of global warming, provided to governments in 2007 - for which it won the Nobel peace prize with former the US vice-president Al Gore. The mistakes, including a claim that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, prompted a review of the IPCC's processes and procedures by the InterAcademy Council (IAC), an organisation of world science bodies.

The IAC said the IPCC needed to be as transparent as possible in how it worked, how it selected people to participate in assessments and its choice of scientific information to assess.

Although Pachauri once compared Lomborg to Hitler, he has now given an unlikely endorsement to the new book, Smart Solutions to Climate Change. In a quote for the launch, Pachauri said: "This book provides not only a reservoir of information on the reality of human-induced climate change, but raises vital questions and examines viable options on what can be done."

Lomborg denies he has performed a volte face, pointing out that even in his first book he accepted the existence of man-made global warming. "The point I've always been making is it's not the end of the world," he told the Guardian. "That's why we should be measuring up to what everybody else says, which is we should be spending our money well."

But he said the crucial turning point in his argument was the Copenhagen Consensus project, in which a group of economists were asked to consider how best to spend $50bn. The first results, in 2004, put global warming near the bottom of the list, arguing instead for policies such as fighting malaria and HIV/Aids. But a repeat analysis in 2008 included new ideas for reducing the temperature rise, some of which emerged about halfway up the ranking. Lomborg said he then decided to consider a much wider variety of policies to reduce global warming, "so it wouldn't end up at the bottom".

The difference was made by examining not just the dominant international policy to cut carbon emissions, but also seven other "solutions" including more investment in technology, climate engineering, and planting more trees and reducing soot and methane, also significant contributors to climate change, said Lomborg.

"If the world is going to spend hundreds of millions to treat climate, where could you get the most bang for your buck?" was the question posed, he added.After the analyses, five economists were asked to rank the 15 possible policies which emerged. Current policies to cut carbon emissions through taxes - of which Lomborg has long been critical - were ranked largely at the bottom of four of the lists. At the top were more direct public investment in research and development rather than spending money on low carbon energy now, and climate engineering.

Lomborg acknowledged trust was a problem when committing to long term R&D, but said politicians were already reneging on promises to cut emissions, and spending on R&D would be easier to monitor. Although many believe private companies are better at R&D than governments, Lomborg said low carbon energy was a special case comparable to massive public investment in computers from the 1950s, which later precpitated the commercial IT revolution.

Lomborg also admitted climate engineering could cause "really bad stuff" to happen, but argued if it could be a cheap and quick way to reduce the worst impacts of climate change and thus there was an "obligation to at least look at it". He added: "This is not about 'we have all got to live with less, wear hair-shirts and cut our carbon emissions'. It's about technologies, about realising there's a vast array of solutions."

Despite his change of tack, however, Lomborg is likely to continue to have trenchant critics. Writing for today's Guardian, Howard Friel, author of the book The Lomborg Deception, said: "If Lomborg were really looking for smart solutions, he would push for an end to perpetual and brutal war, which diverts scarce resources from nearly everything that Lomborg legitimately says needs more money."


Only 7% of air passengers are funding green energy projects
and offsetting the carbon emissions of their flights, a
Civil Aviation Authority survey at Stansted airport has found

Tim Webb - The Guardian - 30 August 2010

Only 7% of flyers are funding green energy projects to offset the carbon emitted on their flights, according to a survey.

A study of passengers at Stansted airport revealed that 93% of those questioned did not offset their flights. Ignorance cannot be blamed: 56% of those questioned by the Civil Aviation Authority knew what the practice meant.

Asked if they had taken fewer flights over the previous year on environmental grounds, only 9% of those asked said yes. Most of this 9% took one or two fewer flights. When asked if their choice of airline had been affected by how environmentally friendly they were, only 3% replied in the affirmative.

In total 318 travellers were surveyed in September last year, the most recently available figures. British Airways and easyJet, which both allow passengers to offset their flights directly on their websites, said that the number who chose to do so this year was "static" compared to last year, without giving more details.

Carbon offsetting was first practised by individuals on a meaningful scale about five years ago in response to mounting concern over global warming. It fostered a new industry which set up green energy projects, mostly in the developing world, which consumers could fund to offset their emissions.

Initially, regulation of the new industry was lax and some projects were not properly audited to make sure that the claimed carbon emission savings were actually taking place. Even though the carbon offsetting industry is now more professional, some environmentalists believe the principle is misguided.

Friends of the Earth said: "Carbon offsetting is a con - it encourages businesses and individuals to carry on polluting when we urgently need to reduce our carbon emissions. It allows people to develop the mindset that it's OK to carry on polluting if green schemes in far-off locations make up for it."

"The greenest thing holidaymakers can do is choose a location that is closer to home, that can be reached by coach or by train. The travel industry must do more to promote nearby towns, coasts and countryside, and the government must ensure rail is a fast, convenient and affordable alternative to flying."


Jens Flottau, Frankfurt - www.aviation.com - 31 August 2010

Germany's federal government is expected to approve the much-criticized air passenger duty at a cabinet meeting in Berlin on Sept. 1. The tax is part of a multi-billion package aimed at reducing the large federal deficit, which has widened as a result of the recent financial crisis. The tax should add ?1 billion ($1.27 billion) to the federal budget. Passengers boarding flights in Germany will be charged ?8 per domestic segment, ?25 for medium-haul flights and ?45 for long-range sectors.

But there are important exceptions: transfer services will not be charged extra, and cargo flights are not affected at all. Germany's air transport industry was caught by surprise when the plans were announced in April. Officials say they are concerned that passenger demand will significantly fall as a result of higher fares leading to the loss of 10,000 jobs.

Already in 2011, airlines expect up to 7 million fewer passengers as a consequence of the tax. They claim that the tax will lead to much less government income than predicted as a result. They also criticize that the scheme favors some airlines and airports over others. While the effect on Lufthansa and hub airports Frankfurt and Munich may be less dramatic because of the high share of transfer and higher yield, less price-sensitive traffic, low-cost carriers and airports such as Cologne/Bonn with a higher share of low cost carriers are deeply concerned their business models may no longer work.

Several recent studies also came to the conclusion that the duty could be unconstitutional for a variety of reasons. It may also infringe on European law. German airline sources indicate that a legal case against the proposal is being prepared, and legal action may be launched.

Government sources say the effects of the passenger duty may be reviewed in mid-2012. Changes could be adopted if the review concludes that it has had severe adverse effects on demand. Along with all other airlines serving European destinations, German carriers will be included in the European Union emission trading system from early 2012.


The airline said today it would cease operations
from Belfast City from the end of October

Dan Keenan - Northern News Editor - Irish Times - 31 August 2010

Ryanair is to pull out of George Best Belfast City Airport, claiming it cannot wait for a proposed runway extension to be built.

The airline, which has operated from the east Belfast airport since 2007, is keen to extend its services to continental Europe in addition to its five destinations in Scotland and England.

The unexpected announcement was made by chief executive Michael O'Leary in Belfast today. "It is very disappointing that the promised runway extension at Belfast City Airport has still not materialised more than three years after we opened the base at Belfast City," he said.

"In these circumstances, sadly, we have better alternative airports elsewhere in the UK and Europe, all of whom are willing and able to provide us with the runway infrastructure and low-cost facilities we need."

The airline carries some 800,000 passengers annually from the airport. Some 50 Ryanair jobs will go when services are halted on October 31st although alternative posts will be offered at other Ryanair bases. Up to 1,000 other jobs could be affected, Ryanair said. The airline's services from Derry City airport are unaffected.

A public inquiry is pending following vociferous opposition from residents in east Belfast to the proposed runway extension. Night time and other restrictions are also in place.

Rival airline easyJet questioned Ryanair's complaints about runway provision. EasyJet's commercial manager for Northern Ireland, Ali Gayward, said: ?We believe that there is sufficient airport capacity in Belfast today. There must be a proper public inquiry before any decision over airport expansion is taken. Once again, Ryanair wants the red carpet rolled out for them, while easyJet and many other airlines are happy to fly from City Airport as it is today."

Liz Fawcett, spokeswoman for Belfast City Airport Watch which opposes the runway extension, said: "Residents are very pleased. [Ryanair] had a particularly unpopular 6.30am flight and certainly this will give some respite."

Independent Assembly member for east Belfast Dawn Purvis said Ryanair had thrown a "hissy fit" over the runway issue. Other political and commercial commentators regretted the decision. Katy Best, business development director at Belfast City Airport said: "We are obviously disappointed at Ryanair's decision. The airline had provided five successful routes from Belfast City Airport." She said Ryanair's passenger levels showed there was local demand for the routes served.

"I am confident that we can attract other airlines to fill the void," she added. "Our goal still remains to attract new airlines and new destinations to and from Belfast City Airport resulting in a much needed economic boost for the region."

Environment minister Edwin Poots, who ordered the planning inquiry, regretted the decision. He said continental destinations could have been served from Belfast International Airport 25 miles away, where Aer Lingus is based.

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, also regretted the announcement and said inbound tourism depended on easy access by customers in target markets. "Tourism Ireland will continue its co-operative marketing efforts with the other carriers into Northern Ireland from the British market to help stimulate demand," he said.

The SDLP also regretted the announcement. North Belfast Assembly member Alban Maginness said: "We have a planning process here that is so torturous and prolonged that it can, in some circumstances, act as a deterrent to investment in business and jobs in our economy."

However Sinn Fein's Niall O'Donnghaille said: "This is nothing more than the typical type of behaviour most people will have come to expect from Michael O'Leary." The NI Retail Trade Association said the pullout would damage the North's economy as a whole.

OUR COMMENT: Is it time to have a more effective national airports policy? Should local air services, the local community and the local environment be left largely to the market interests of airlines as well as airport owners?

Pat Dale


Airport strikes shelved after Unite recommends improved pay deal

James Meikle and Helen Pidd - The Guardian - 17 August 2010

Strikes that could have closed six UK airports including Heathrow over the bank holiday were called off last night when the Unite union said it would recommend a "much improved" pay offer to more than 6,000 workers including security staff and firefighters.

The prospect of peace in what looked set to become a damaging dispute came after talks with airport operator BAA at conciliation service Acas. The travel plans of millions of passengers over the rest of the holiday season had been put in jeopardy following the rejection of an earlier 1% pay offer. An extra rise of 0.5% had been conditional on changes being agreed to BAA's sickness agreement.

Brendan Gold, national secretary of Unite, said: "We've reached a settlement which we are prepared to recommend to our members. We will be undertaking a ballot of our members, and that will commence over the next couple of days, and last for probably about three weeks."

Union negotiators hoped members would listen to the recommendation, said Gold. "We are very pleased to be able to reassure the travelling public that we for our side have worked tirelessly to achieve a settlement."

Gold said he was confident union negotiators had reached a recommended settlement that should put an end to any strike threats in the aviation sector of BAA.

Details of the package are expected later today. About half of those previously balloted by Unite on industrial action had voted, with three quarters supporting strikes, which would have also hit Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports.

The union had said members deserved a better rise, having last year accepted a pay freeze and co-operated with changes to the firm's pension scheme. Two other unions, Prospect and the Commercial and Public Services Union, will also ballot their members on the offer.

Unite had said the airports would close if strikes went ahead. The union would have to give no more than seven days' notice of any industrial action, meaning its members could walk out before the end of the school holidays.

Terry Morgan of BAA, owned by Spanish construction company Ferrovial, said: "We believe that the unions are going to recommend acceptance of our offer to their membership, and if that's the case, then we are very, very confident that any disruption to our airport operations has now been avoided."

It was important to make sure that people travelling on holiday and business over the next few weeks could do so with a high degree of confidence that their journeys were not going to be disrupted, he said. "I think it's a deal that is a fair reward for our staff, but it's also a deal that the company can afford."

Transport secretary Philip Hammond said: "I am extremely pleased that BAA and Unite have agreed a basis for settlement to end the threat of strike action. Strike action over a bank holiday would have been hugely damaging to the country. "Passengers will be relieved that they are now able to go on holiday without the fear of disruption from strikes."

Bob Atkinson, of website travelsupermarket.com, said there would have been passenger "outrage" if the strikes had gone ahead. "Consumers have already had to contend with a range of challenging travel problems in 2010 - from airports closed due to snow at the turn of the year to airspace shut down and the problems of making claims from airlines after the volcanic ash eruption, together with the BA cabin crew strikes."

"Customers now need reassurance that they will not see problems further down the road and it is time that the split-up of the BAA monopoly at London and in Scotland is resolved once and for all. When will the sale of Stansted and Edinburgh or Glasgow International go through and help to prevent consumers being held hostage to one union in the future?"

Meanwhile, thousands of British Airways check-in workers and other ground staff are voting on whether to accept savings and job losses as part of the airline's plans to cut costs.

OUR COMMENT: Now is the time for Rail and Coach to offer a more comfortable range of holidays at reasonable prices. And, what about the promised air travel tax? A tax that would provide better equality with regard to fuel prices? Surely this should be on the Government balance sheet?

Pat Dale


Dunmow Broadcast - 9 August 2010

Just weeks after Stansted received Code F status to handle Boeing's new generation 747-8 aircraft, British Airways World Cargo has announced three of its new fleet will be based at London Stansted, operating schedules to destinations such as Hong Kong, Atlanta, Houston and Shanghai.

"We're delighted British Airways World Cargo has selected Stansted as the UK base from which three of its new generation 747-8 will operate," said Nick Barton, Commercial and Development Director for London Stansted Airport. "The new fleet will be delivered in traditional British Airways colours and we understand the first aircraft will touchdown early next year."

"Obtaining Code F status was vital to opening the doors for next generation aircraft to operate at Stansted and we're delighted with this announcement which is already sparking interest from other carriers. This is great news for Stansted and we look forward to welcoming the eagerly awaited 747-8 aircraft when it touches down early next year."

Steve Gunning, Managing Director of British Airways World Cargo says: "Our investment in the new Boeing 747-8 reinforces our commitment to the air cargo industry and demonstrates the importance British Airways places on cargo. While our decision to operate on the same schedule also reiterates our commitment to Stansted and its recent Code F status is a significant boost to the operational capacity of the airport."

"In addition, the increased range, noise reduction and environmental benefits that the 747-8 provides will significantly benefit our customers. Long-haul freighters and our freighter hub at Stansted form an integral part of our overall business strategy - providing flexibility and capacity on resilient and growing lanes - as we strive for continued excellence in all key areas of the business, including product range, customer service and, of course, network offering. I am also pleased to be continuing our relationship with our long-term freighter partners, GSS and Atlas Air."

OUR COMMENT: It is misleading to suggest that the new planes will be environmentally beneficial. Improvements in engine technologuy will not necessarily compensate for increased size and it has been stated that it is impossible to reduce levels of both noise and emissions. There could be significant implications for residents. Many cargo planes operate at night, when noise levels are ruled by the statutory imposition of limits expressed through a formula known as "Quota Counts" or "QCs".

The QC counts for Ryanair B737 and easyJet 319 are given in the table below. Both these aircraft types are the least noisy commercial passenger jets currently in operation and, as they make up over 80% of the traffic at Stansted, the introduction of B747-800 with a higher noise signature will be adverse especially if BA Cargo uses the night period generally favoured by freight operators. And a B747-800 will be perceived as still more noisier since it is normal human experience that the bigger the noise source, the larger appears the noise nuisance. And proportionally more noise complaints are made to BAA Stansted for night noise and freighters.

Quota Count
QC 0.25
QC 0.5
QC 1
QC 2
Noise Band dB
84.0 - 86.9
87.0 - 89.9
90.0 - 92.9
93.0 - 95.9
Arrival319737 & 380747-800
319 & 737380 & 747-800

Pat Dale


Poll reveals 'best' and 'worst' UK airports

PRLog Free Press Release - 30 July 2010

A poll by the UK's leading airport transfer comparison website has shown the most loved and most hated airports, according to the British public. 63% said they preferred flying from a regional airport and Luton was voted the 'worst' in the UK.

Latest research by one of the UK's leading airport transfer comparison websites of 2,372 holidaymakers has found that Luton is the 'worst' UK airport, whilst Birmingham is the favourite place to fly from.

The study by www.airporttransfers.co.uk aimed to find out what travellers' attitudes were towards various British airports, so respondents were subsequently asked to reveal what they believed to be the 'best' and 'worst' in the UK. This was determined by the respondents' scores of various aspects of the airport experience, after airporttransfers.co.uk asked them to rate different phases out of 10 of the airports they had been to.

The top five 'best' UK airports, according to the poll are:

    1. Birmingham
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    2. Cardiff
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    3. Liverpool
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    4. Manchester
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    5. Glasgow
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    The five 'worst' UK airports, as voted by respondents, are:

    1. Luton
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    2. Stansted
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    3. East Midlands
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    4. Gatwick
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

    5. Heathrow
    Staff friendliness
    Check-in efficiency
    Shopping experience
    Lounge areas
    Security check time

Almost two thirds, 63%, of respondents admitted that they preferred flying from smaller regional airports outside of London and 12% claimed that the airport experience was one of the things they 'most looked forward to' about a holiday.

48% said they were prepared to travel 'more than 100 miles' if it meant the airport they were flying from was 'decent' and a quarter, 26%, felt that having a bad experience at the airport could 'ruin a holiday'.

Chris Brown, co-founder of airporttransfers.co.uk, said: "For some people, the airport experience can be a stressful one, especially when faced with delays, queues and unfriendly staff. With our customers heading to various airports across the UK every day, we were really keen to find out which ones were loved and which passengers would rather avoid."

"I was really surprised to see London's four main airports voted in the top five 'worst', but I think many people are put off by larger, busier airports. Whilst all of the London airports scored relatively high for shopping experience, it seems a lot of passengers feel let down in the more important customer service areas such as friendliness of staff and check-in efficiency."


UKL Press Association - 2 August 2010

Many British people are holidaying at home this summer amid fears over tour operator problems, flight upsets and the Eurozone's debt crisis, according to research.

One in four holidaymakers (23%) are taking more UK breaks this year than last, and a third (33%) will be spending this year's main holiday on home soil, a study by motoring and leisure association CSMA Club found.

For many, the financial instability in Europe (11%) and the risk of a repeat of the ash cloud problems (6%) has deterred them from taking a break abroad. A further one in fifteen (7%) are put off by the threat of airline strikes.

However, finances remain the key factor in keeping many UK holidaymakers at home, with one in four (25%) doing so to keep a close eye on the money. The findings show the average family will spend just over £980 on a summer holiday in the UK, with Scotland, the Lake District, Devon and Snowdonia set to be the biggest beneficiaries.

Greece tops the list of countries being shunned by UK holidaymakers, with one in 10 (13%) planning to avoid the country amid fears over financial instability. Iceland (9%), Turkey and Russia (7%) and Romania (5%) made up the rest of the top five places that UK tourists are avoiding this summer.

Opinium Research carried out an online poll of 3,006 UK holidaymakers from July 2-6.


James Thompson - The Independent - 11 August 2010

Heathrow airport had its busiest ever month for passengers in July, but airports outside London suffered flat or falling traffic. The airport operator BAA said a whopping 6.71 million passengers passed through Heathrow in July, a 3.5 per cent jump on the same month last year.

The UK's biggest airport was helped by an end to the Icelandic volcanic ash disruption and a temporary cessation in industrial action by British Airways cabin crew. A further boost to Heathrow came from continued strong traffic from overseas visitors and the fact that it remains a crucial transfer hub for long-haul flights that start outside the UK.

The main source of passenger growth at the London airport was the European market, where additional capacity drove an increase of 9.5 per cent. It also benefited from strong demand from Brazil, Russia, China and India.

"Heathrow is definitely more resilient because of the hub nature of the airport for passengers who use London to transfer to other destinations," a BAA spokesman said. "We have been saying for a while that we would have had good figures if had not been for the volcanic ash or BA industrial action." However, he warned: "We are not yet out of the woods."

Industry sources also suggested that Heathrow is benefiting from a stronger recovery in London's economy, given that business passengers account for about one-third of its traffic.

In contrast, the reliance of Stansted on low-cost airlines suggests this was behind a 7.2 per cent slump in passengers numbers to 2.02 million in July. In fact, Stansted was the worst performing of all the UK airports. Aberdeen airport suffered a 4.1 per cent slump in passengers to 276.9 million last month, which was slightly worse than 3.6 per cent fall at Glasgow. Meanwhile, passenger numbers rose marginally by 0.6 per cent at Edinburgh.

Total UK passenger numbers came in higher by 0.3 per cent at 10.95m in July.


Uttlesford's new plug for electric cars

Saffron Walden Reporter - 12 August 2010

ELECTRIC vehicles could become a more common sight across Uttlesford after it was announced that Stansted Airport has been earmarked as a location for a new plug-in charging point.

The East of England is set to become a haven for electric vehicle owners after being given the green light to apply for funding to install around 600 charging points across the region.

As well as Stansted Airport, a wider charging network for electric vehicles will be based around Bedford, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough, Luton, Hertfordshire, and Thames Gateway in South Essex.

A final decision is expected from government by December, and if all goes to plan, installation could be underway as soon as spring 2011. This will ensure that the East of England forms a key part of the UK's charging network, linking in with the adjacent charging points already being installed in London and Milton Keynes.

Chief executive of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), Deborah Cadman OBE, said: "The transition to a low carbon economy is a necessity, not a choice. With this announcement, the East of England is set to lead the way in providing the infrastructure for local people and businesses to adopt electric vehicles."

"EEDA has been proud to coordinate this project in partnership with businesses and local authorities - a project that will build upon the East of England's position as a leader in low carbon innovation, providing the research and development platform to help develop a global electric vehicle economy of the future."

One of the main barriers to people buying electric vehicles has been concerns over the range and the battery life. The new proposal has been designed specifically to ensure that people across the South and East of England are within striking distance of the next plug-in point.

A spokesperson for the airport said: "Stansted Airport is delighted to be involved in such a ground-breaking project and we look forward to working with EEDA as the initiative progresses."


BBC News - 12 August 2010

Workers at airport operator BAA have voted three-to-one in favour of strike action that could close Heathrow and five other UK airports. The ballot came after the Unite union rejected a 1% pay offer from BAA.

BAA has confirmed its airports will have to close on any strike days, as essential staff including firefighters are due to take part in the walkouts. BAA also runs Southampton, Edinburgh, Stansted, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.

The airports operator said: "We regret the uncertainty this vote has already caused our passengers and airline customers. Fewer than half of those people eligible to vote have done so and we do not believe this result provides a clear mandate for strike action."

The union said 74.1% of the 3,054 staff who voted had said yes to strike action. The turnout was about 50% of the 6,185 staff balloted. In addition to the firefighters, the vote was also put to security officers, engineers and workers in various support roles.

Strike dates

Brian Boyd, Unite: "If strike action goes ahead, BAA faces total shutdown of six airports."

Both sides said they hoped to be able to avert the action through negotiation. No dates were given for strike action. The union said it would be meeting on Monday to discuss a plan of action. It would have to give a minimum of a week's notice for strike action, meaning walkouts could begin from the week starting 23 August.

Some analysts suggest Unite may target the August Bank Holiday weekend that starts on Saturday, 28 August, but its leaders refused to confirm that. Unite's Brendan Gold said it was not their intention to ruin people's summer holidays.

"The advice we would give to passengers is to put pressure on the company to come to reach a negotiated settlement," he told a news conference.

No strike action has previously completely closed BAA's airports. In the last planned walkout in 2002, action was called off at the last moment when an improved offer was made by the company.

* 220 airlines use the six airports
* 300,000 passengers daily
* 2,561 flights a day
* 10,000 staff employed by BAA

The union says BAA staff accepted a pay freeze in 2009 and has described the offer for this year - a 1% increase, with the possibility of an extra 0.5% if the union agrees to changes to the company's sickness agreement - as "measly" and "nothing short of confrontational".

BAA counters that its offer is reasonable "at a time when BAA and its airline customers are seeing a decline in passengers due to the impacts of recession and volcanic ash."

Unite is also calling for staff to receive a £450 bonus, which had been promised to them if the company had met a certain earnings target.

BAA, which is owned by Spain's Ferrovial, missed the target by 3%. However, Unite says staff deserve financial recognition for coming so close.

The company has also said there will be no additional summer bonus this year, which is usually paid if BAA makes a profit, and is worth about £700.

Unite is currently also in a dispute with British Airways, which has resulted in 22 days of strikes so far this year. The union has threatened to ballot for further strikes at the airline starting in September.


Saffron Walden Reporter - 12 August 2010

RYANAIR has said they will be forced to cancel up to 300 flights per day if BAA strikes go ahead.

The budget airline, which has a base a Stansted Airport, believes the travel plans of up to 50,000 passengers per day will be affected.

Ryanair's Daniel de Carvalho said: "There is no justification for any strikes by these selfish and underworked Unite members at a time when traffic at BAA's airports is falling and they are even less busy than they were last year. Unite must not be allowed to blackmail ordinary passengers or their families by striking during the peak holiday season."

"If the Unite union closes the BAA airports, then they should be told in no uncertain terms that pay freeze will immediately follow."

The airline reports that traffic at BAA's airports fell 4 per cent in 2009, and has fallen again by over 6 per cent in the first half of 2010.


Michael O'Leary excels at offending people and insincere apologies

Matthew Norman - Telegraph - 6 August 2010

Sincere apologies to anyone who has ever flown with his airline, and especially to those about to do so in the coming days and weeks, but once again I am suffused with admiration for Michael O'Leary of Ryanair.

Already, hundreds of hands will be reaching for the Basildon Bond preparatory to contacting the editor to question the character of this columnist. Earlier this week, indeed, this page carried a letter from a Mr Barry H White, of London N6, touching on both the hidden charges that have helped Ryanair to fifth place in the ancillary income rankings of global carriers and its latest outrage.

This one, even by Mr O'Leary's Olympian standards of cultivated chutzpah, is a cracker. Three violinists flying from Frankfurt to Stansted, en route to Norfolk to play some Bach at a charity concert, were banned from placing their instruments in the overhead luggage lockers. Being a shade jittery about entrusting their Stradivarii to the cargo hold, they were obliged to pay for extra seats into which the violins were duly strapped, at an additional cost - this being the most celebrated of "cut-price" airlines - of £1,340. Whether they were then stung under the new "four strings" surcharge mysteriously introduced 11 minutes before the flight took off is unknown.

Needless to say, the charity, which had no choice but to stump up, lividly demands a refund. Equally needless to add, Mr O'Leary couldn't give a flying fugue. Though if it transpires that the musicians had been assured that they could use the lockers, as they claim, he will issue a sincere apology of his own. He does this whenever the venomous disdain he spits out like a psychotic cobra strays into the realm of contractual breach (refusing to compensate travellers grounded by the volcanic ash cloud, in contravention of EU law), or towards the land of libel (recent posters depicting Stelios Haji-Ioannou of rival EasyJet as Pinocchio). The sincerity of O'Leary's near weekly apologies reminds you of Hughie Green richly praising the spoons-player who dropped the cutlery 23 times on Opportunity Knocks. The official Ryanair motto, after all, is "Talk to the hand..."

The delight Mr O'Leary takes in insulting anyone who crosses his path - politicians, journalists, environmentalists and preferably his passengers - is such a potent antidote to the prevailing ethos of avoiding causing offence at all costs, hidden and otherwise, that the Irishman becomes an honorary national treasure. In an age when the BBC solemnly pledges never to broadcast gags about Eammon Holmes's girth (and the best of luck to him on Ryanair; they'd make him book the entire plane), he is our stoutest bulwark against the unceasing advances of the military unit known to us all as the PC Brigade.

Whether Mr O'Leary's lone rearguard campaign to have political correctness sectioned under the Mental Health Act is any more appealing must depend on one's personal aeronautic history. A colleague, who with reckless bravery took her baby on a Ryanair flight, and will now travel to Europe only by train, seems disinclined to join me in the Michael O'Leary Fan Club. This year's annual dinner falls on September 7, by the way, in a public telephone box on the outskirts of Arbroath. Tickets are £25, with an additional £5 for each item of clothing, £10 for those with more than four teeth, £25 for each hand and foot and a £150 surcharge (per missing limb) for amputees. It should be a wild evening.

But, then, unlike my colleague and Mr White's daughter, I have never flown Ryanair, and never would. I yield to no one in my appreciation of those willing to endure character-building horror of a kind unknown in Britain since the Victorian public schools. No, as a self-respecting coward, I'd rather be force fed my own liver by Dr Josef Mengele, or even Ed Balls, than go within 500 yards of a Ryanair check-in. From this vantage point of insouciant indifference to the sufferings of others, I consider Mr O'Leary a 24-carat genius. Who else could have studied the travel plans of those desperately fleeing the planet's leading hell holes - whether by hiding in the cargo hold or strapping themselves to the undercarriage - and thought "Sure now, isn't that the way to shunt holiday makers to Magaluf"?

With London newly crowned as the global capital for public relations laundering operations on those keen to clean their sullied images, Mr O'Leary's heroism shines out more brightly than ever. Partly out of a native cockiness worthy of the young Prince Naseem Hamed, and partly to help drive the colossal profits he makes even in tough trading conditions, he actively courts hideous publicity. To quote the Millwall FC of the skies himself: "I don't give a s--- if nobody likes me... I'm probably just an obnoxious little b------. Who cares?" It's the "probably" that tickles most.

As the absolute shamelessness and pure integrity required for such an imperviousness to universal loathing are rare and precious qualities, at least outside the sphere of the genocidal maniac, I invite you to honour Bernard Manning's successor as our leading bogeyman and rise for Michael O'Leary. Which if he has his way, and adds standing-room only tickets to his bewildering array on in-flight elegances, some of you courageous souls will be doing soon enough anyway.


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 29 July 2010

The world's biggest airliners could soon be on their way to Stansted.

The Civil Aviation Authority has awarded the UK's third busiest airport Code F status in a move that has already prompted calls for a night time curfew by SSE, despite a warm welcome from BAA.

The official go-ahead, which follows months of work to demonstrate the airport's operational readiness to handle aircraft such as the Airbus 380 and the new Boeing 747-8 opens the door for growth in passenger and cargo operations.

Already Stansted has been named as Emirates' alternative airport for their A380 aircraft, if they are forced to divert as a precaution or if the destination airport is unavailable - although the airport said it had no immediate plans to launch regular services.

Stansted's commercial and development director, Nick Barton, who along with the airport's managing director, David Johnson, recently visited a number of the Middle East's largest airlines which use or plan to use the A380, said: "We are delighted to have won permission to handle the world's biggest Code F aircraft, an achievement that will make Stansted even more attractive to potential carriers - both passengers and cargo.

"It's credit to the original designers of Stansted who showed astonishing vision in the 1980s to create an airport capable of handling the aircraft of the future. Our mission is to make sure the world's aviation decision makers know all about the excellent modern facilities at Stansted. Gaining Code F status gives us a competitive advantage as we focus our work and energy towards airlines from the Middle and Far East and the USA."

SSE's campaign director Carol Barbone said: "The A380 - the world's largest aircraft - and the wide-bodied Boeing 747-8 which BAA hopes to attract to Stansted are in a different league to the relative toddlers in the fleets already serving the airport. We are therefore understandably concerned that noise problems will be exacerbated, particularly at night. If and when these new super-jumbos are introduced at the airport, albeit on an emergency basis, their impact must be limited as far as possible by restricting flights to the daytime period when sleep is less likely to be disturbed."

"Noise continues to be a significant problem around Stansted where very low noise background levels make overflying all the more intrusive. Indeed, despite the falling numbers of passengers and planes using Stansted, complaints about noise made to BAA in 2009 rose by 50% compared to the previous year (excluding multiple complainers) and there was a 47% rise in the number noise infringements where aircraft noise exceeded official limits at the fixed ground monitors."

Matthew Knowles, Spokesperson for ADS, the UK's Aerospace, Defence and Security trade organisation said: "The Airbus 380 is more fuel-efficient than a hybrid car and produces less perceived noise at take-off than that experienced inside a London Underground train."


Nick Thompson - The Reporter - 28 July 2010

ISSUES with noisy aircraft blasting over the top of villages came to a head last Friday when over 200 people packed into Hatfield Heath village hall to air their grievances.

In the hot seat was Stansted Airport's head of environment, Dr Andy Jefferson. He was met with some angry questions about flight paths and Asia-bound jumbo jets swooping over rooftops at night. Pensioner Albert Neilson attacked the airport chief after it emerged that on average every three months engine noise drowns out village life for three entire days.

He said: "That is three days of our lives gone in three months, how many more days are we going to lose? It's all about profits for BAA - we were promised no flights at night. They need to put the goalposts back to where they were and stick to that promise."

Dr Jefferson said airport owners BAA are eager to work alongside residents and get a better deal for them regarding flights paths. He told them to lobby the Civil Aviation Authority in the hope of getting alternative flight paths approved.

Dr Jefferson said: "We are aiming to trail new waypoints with one of the airlines - this will mean that aircraft will travel between Hatfield Heath and Hatfield Broad Oak rather then directly over them. It will reduce noise for some residents, but in order to do that for all airlines the CAA has to formally adopt those points."

As a result parish councillors, the Stop Stansted Expansion Group, and BAA will be teaming up with Uttlesford MP Sir Alan Haselhurst to form a lobbying taskforce. After the three month trial, which is due to start in August, data will be gathered and presented to the CAA.

BAA is also looking to increase its fines for aircraft companies that don't obey height and direction rules. Currently Air Asia X and Ryanair are the biggest culprits - but are only fined £1000 or £500 for each contravention. Dr Jefferson said: "We want an increase to make give the fines far more weight."

SEE economics advisor Brain Ross welcomed BAA's effort to engage with the community and said that there were "grounds for optimism". He added: "Noise fines should be increased ten-fold to make them a deterrent. If planes were actually at the 4000ft point they should be, people would be a lot happier. We also need to find a common position with BAA and aim to reduce night flying."

OUR COMMENT: Too much "Do-it-yourself"? There is more to noise management than laying down flight paths and only BAA can control and enforce best practice and, even with best practice, all aircraft are noisy on take off and landing.

Pat Dale


Not long before the election a post on Conservative Home suggested that "80-90%" of our party are "just not signed up" to the climate change agenda. This was backed up by a poll of candidates in the 250 most winnable seats, with candidates being asked to rank 19 different policy priorities in order of importance. Britain's carbon footprint came bottom.

Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee - Daily Telegraph - 19 July 2010

This is why I, a former environment minister and shadow environment secretary, decided to write a new pamphlet on the issue. Green gold: the case for raising our game on climate change urges David Cameron and the new coalition government to take more radical steps on the issue, and to take the part(ies) with them.

Not only is it right for the environment to tackle the challenge of climate change sooner rather than later but there will also be large financial rewards for UK Plc if we succeed in doing so. Working towards a low carbon economy is not a "luxury"; it is essential to our future prosperity. If we fail to decarbonise our electricity industry, our transport system and our buildings we will fall behind our competitors abroad and pay a much heavier price financially in the future.

The new government has to make the biggest ever cuts in public spending at the same time as radically reforming energy, transport, taxation, planning and construction policy to step up the pace of Britain's transformation to a low carbon economy.

Two decades ago, like most people, I knew very little about climate change. When John Major made me Minister of State for the Environment in 1993 my former private secretary at the Department of Health, aware of my limited experience in this field slipped a copy of The Green Bluffer's Guide into my red box so that at least I would know what the people I was about to meet were talking about. I probably needed it, but within three months I was convinced by the scientific evidence that climate change was happening and that the risk that climate change posed to the prosperity, and conceivably even the survival, of the human species was real.

I also knew from a previous life that going green can bring financial rewards. As a young investment banker in the 1970s I raised money for an engineering company which made innovative and unusually energy-efficient domestic central heating boilers. It was so successful that within two decades my clients' original investment had multiplied 375 times, an early and striking example of how doing the right thing environmentally can also be rewarding economically. Green can be gold.

So what should we do now we are back in government?

Party members remember that, within a year of his election as Leader, David Cameron was photographed on a dog sled in the Arctic visiting a Norwegian glacier to see the effects of climate change first hand. This iconic image came to define his efforts to transform the image of the Conservative Party. Since then we have been urging voters to "vote blue, go green".

The Prime Minister has rightly expressed fears that Labour's approach to climate change in recent years was "in danger of starting to lose people". Today we need a positive message about the benefits of Britain leading the way towards a low carbon world. We must persuade people and companies that it is in their financial interests to change the way they go about their lives and businesses to protect the environment.

The Coalition Agreement pledges to increase the target for energy from renewable sources; to create a green investment bank; to reduce carbon emissions from central government by ten per cent within a year; to cancel the third runway at Heathrow; and launch a (as yet undetailed) national tree planting campaign.

But we must go much further. Market forces must be harnessed much more extensively to drive the necessary technological progress and changes in lifestyles. International cooperation is essential, not just within the EU but also with China, whose long term approach is far greener than many in the West understand, and with other countries.

My pamphlet concludes that the evidence that climate change is caused to a significant extent by human activity is compelling. More importantly it points out that climate change is not a threat to the survival of the planet but will, if not checked, end the stable climatic conditions in which the human species, one of the most recently arrived on the planet, has both multiplied in number and enjoyed huge prosperity in the last few thousand years.

Britain under David Cameron has a chance to lead a new low carbon revolution, comparable to the industrial revolution two centuries ago when we led the world and laid the foundations of a growing and prosperous economy. We can do this in four ways.

Firstly we must speed up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from electricity. This means more renewables, more nuclear and no new coal fired power stations without carbon capture and storage, even though the combined impact of these changes will inevitably raise consumer prices. It also means much more emphasis on energy efficiency. Significantly all these changes improve Britain's energy security too.

Secondly we must decarbonise our transport system by improving the incentives for hybrid, electric and other low emission cars, vans and trucks, and by introducing road pricing on our motorways while simultaneously transferring them to private ownership. At the same time we must follow France, Spain and China by investing in high speed rail so travellers are encouraged to switch from planes to trains for journeys up to five hundred miles.

Thirdly, as the technology to slash emissions from buildings is already available, its swifter adoption must be encouraged by radical changes to council tax and business rates which will reward those landlords, tenants and owner occupiers who invest in energy efficiency and low carbon technology are rewarded and those who do not are penalised.

Fourthly Britain should lead the way to ending the perverse incentives for poorer countries to destroy the rain forests. This requires touger action to stop the illegal timber trade and better ways of compensating forest communities who are willing to adopt sustainable policies.

David Cameron put climate change at the heart of his campaign to transform and modernise the Conservative Party. I don't doubt his personal commitment or that of other ministers and MPs. However we still have to persuade the public and the wider party that it is in Britain's economic interests to move to a low carbon economy faster than other countries.

This will not be easy, but if the carbon price rises substantially as the world economy recovers and other nations get toughter with emitters, then countries which have already invested in low carbon electricity generating capacity, low emission transport infrastructure and ennvironmentally friendly buildings will enjoy a huge advantage. Low carbon products and services will be a growth market in the medium to long term, as trends in the car industry already show.

Let's be clear also that if we don't do this other countries, including China, certainly will. The danger is that delaying decisions now will leave Britain lagging in the race to become a forward looking green economy.

All these reasons for going green are consistent with Conservative principles. The foundations of Britain's energy scurity for the next generation will be laid in the decisions of the next five years. Equally crucially the chance for Britain to lead the low carbon revolution exists today. If we don't act now, others will. It's time to show that green can be gold.

Green Gold: the case for raising our game on climate change by Tim Yeo MP is published by the Tory Reform Group


Aviation - 27 July 2010

Mr Bain:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent assessment he has made of the case for additional airport capacity in England; [4973] (2) what his policy is on airport expansion outside the South East; [4987] (3) whether he intends to publish a national policy statement on aviation. [5065]

Mrs Villiers:
Individual proposals for airport expansion need to be judged on their merits, taking into account relevant environmental considerations. We have made clear, however, that we oppose new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, on the grounds that the adverse impacts of such development would be unacceptable. On the matter of national policy statement, the Government will issue a more detailed statement later in the summer.

Luciana Berger:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage agreement at global level on reducing aviation emissions. [8972]

Mrs Villiers:
The UK actively participates in all discussions on climate change and aviation in international forums, and particularly in the UNFCCC and in the aviation specific UN body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

While progress in these forums has been slow, there has been some success, for example in October 2009 agreement was reached in ICAO on a global, annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2% per annum until 2020 and on an aspirational global fuel efficiency improvement of 2% per annum to 2050. In addition, earlier this year ICAO states agreed that the organisation should work on developing a CO2 standard for new aircraft.

The steps that have been taken to date in ICAO do not go far enough in delivering a sustainable global aviation industry and the UK will continue to push for an ambitious, global approach to reduce emissions from international aviation.

Zac Goldsmith:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change in its report, Meeting the UK aviation target-options for reducing emissions to 2050, December 2009. [11991]

Mrs Villiers:
We are committed to reducing emissions from transport and ensuring the right framework is in place for aviation to contribute to the UK's climate stabilisation goals. Making clear our opposition to new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick is an important element to that. The Committee on Climate Change's December report was an important contribution to the evidence base, and we will consider the detail of policy and announce our conclusions on the best way to achieve our aims in due course.


Important issues affecting the countryside have been overlooked because
of the focus on the problems of climate change, campaigners have said.

Daily Telegraph - 26 July 2010

The battle against global warming which has dominated the Government's environment policy has taken place against a backdrop of a "piecemeal degradation" of rural Britain, which ministers are now promising to address.

During the last Government major legislation was introduced to cut carbon emissions in order to tackle global warming. However Britain continued to lose important wildlife like farmland birds, flower rich meadows and bees. In a change of direction, the new Coalition Government has promised to bring the focus back onto endangered animals, cleaner water and other aspects of the natural environment.

The first environmental paper to be launched by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 20 years will focus on protecting the countryside. Helen Meech, assistant director of external affairs at the National Trust, said some "great legislation" was introduced by the last Government to cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050.

But now there is a need to introduce new laws to protect the environment that is suffering right now. Honey bees are in crisis, 97 per cent of flower rich meadows have been lost since 1930 and house sparrow numbers have decline by 10 million in the last 25 years.

"The environment agenda has been very dominated by climate change and this discussion is an opportunity to bring the natural environment back up the agenda," she said. We've lost sight of the benefits the natural world provides because they are not accountable within markets and everyone takes them for granted. Now is the time we need to start valuing all the benefits we get for free because they are being degraded."

Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is due to launch a discussion paper at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. She is calling on every area of society to contribute ideas to how Britain can stop the extinction of species on our own doorstep.

"We want everyone to contribute their views on the natural environment - whether they're concerned at the plight of the songbirds in their garden, the quality of air in their town, flooding problems worsened by people paving over their gardens or the fate of our wider countryside," she said. "We have the opportunity to be the generation that puts a stop to the piecemeal degradation of our natural environment."

Ideas that are likely to be accepted by the new Government when the white paper is published next spring include introducing a new system of 'conservation credits'. The 'bio-banking' system, as it is also known, means developers have to compensate for building on wildlife habitats by supporting conservation projects elsewhere.

The Government is also expected to consider a new designation for green spaces in towns and cities that will protect urban parks and nature reserves from development. The NHS and schools will be asked to introduce 'green exercise' and 'outdoor lessons' as part of their statutory requirements.

Farmers will have to do more to protect the environment in order to continue receiving subsidies as part of possible reforms to agriculture. Nature reserves that exist will be protected by 'wildlife corridors' and new protected areas will be set up.

More radical suggestions submitted to the discussion paper may include reintroducing species like the wolf or beaver and a ban on factory farming in England.

Conservation groups including the RSPB, Woodland Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) will all be putting in ideas. Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said it could transform the landscape of the UK. "This White Paper is potentially as meaningful as the build-up to the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act," she said.

"Back then we were reconstructing a nation and, although money was very short, nature was seen as a key part of our future. Nature is not a luxury. With the UK facing unprecedented economic uncertainty and pressures for energy generation, food production and housing, there is a risk we overlook the very basis of our economy and our society; the natural environment upon which this all depends."


It has been used by Greek-Cypriot refugees displaced by an invading Turkish army, Irish women asserting their right to abortions and burka-clad upholders of religious freedoms.

Alistair Osborne - Daily Telegraph - 27 July 2010

The Unite union is planning a fresh test for European human rights legislation: it plans to use it against British Airways to force the carrier to reinstate ultra-cheap Caribbean flights for striking cabin crew.

Unite said on Monday that it planned a legal challenge over the decision by BA chief executive Willie Walsh to strip striking crew of their travel privileges - allowing them flights anywhere on the BA network for just a tenth of the usual fare.

"After careful consideration, Unite believes that management's action breaches European human rights legislation," said the union, claiming 6,000 crew were affected.

BA hit back saying: "Staff travel is a non-contractual perk. Cabin crew knew if they took part in strike action they would lose their travel perks. We will defend our position vigorously."

It is yet to receive formal notice of any action.

OUR COMMENT: Should we all have the right to a pollution free environment?

Pat Dale


Mark Frary - Public Sector Travel - 21 July 2010

Passengers rather than money are to become the focus of how airports in the UK are be regulated, according to new proposals announced today by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

Hammond's proposals would see the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) given a new primary duty to promote the interests of passengers and a supplementary duty of helping drive passenger-focused investment.

Currently, the CAA has four duties:

* To "further the reasonable interests of users of airports within the UK" including airlines;
* To promote the efficient, economic and profitable operation of such airports;
* To encourage investment in new facilities at airports in time to satisfy anticipated demands by the users of such airports; and
* To impose the minimum restrictions that are consistent with the performance by the CAA of its functions under those sections.

The CAA would also gain more effective powers to take action against airports that underperform and new powers to investigate and take action against anti-competitive behaviour.

Hammond said: "The way our airports are regulated is in urgent need of reform. The current economic regulation legislation dates from 1986, when the aviation sector looked very different from today. We must now put passengers at the heart of how our airports are run. We have already announced that we do not support the building of new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. We want to make those airports better, not bigger and that is exactly what these measures will do."

"These changes will help drive passenger-focused investment in airports - such as in new baggage handling equipment or building new modern facilities - and they will also allow economic regulation to be used in a more targeted way and remove unnecessary bureaucracy."

Hammond also announced that pressure group Passenger Focus would not be asked to represent air passengers as had previously been proposed. "The Government believes that it is important to have strong passenger representation but that this is not the time to be make additional structural changes which will add to the regulatory burden on industry. It will therefore be exploring options for strengthening existing passenger representation arrangements," said Hammond.


BAA Press Statement - 21 July 2010

"We are pleased to see the Transport Secretary's announcement today setting out his approach to reforming the economic regulation of airports. Today's announcement reflects the very constructive consultation process undertaken by the Department for Transport last year and provides clarity on the package of measures that Government will take forward in new legislation to promote both the interests of passengers and investment in Britain's airports. The measures announced today will provide important reassurance for the pension funds and other institutions who are supporting BAA's multi-billion pound modernisation programme for Heathrow."

The new legislation will include:

* A primary duty for the CAA to promote the interests of passengers. The CAA will also be given a supplementary duty to ensure that licence holders are able to finance their activities;
* A minimum credit worthiness requirement for licensed airports;
* Ring fencing provisions similar to those in place in other regulated sectors but with initial derogations from some of those provisions (including restrictions on the granting of security to lenders) where the costs of introducing those provisions would exceed their benefits;
* A requirement on the CAA to apply agreed tests when considering the removal of an airport's derogations and an appeals process that is aligned with the wider licence modification process; and
* A requirement for airports to put in place continuity of service plans.

The Government has also confirmed:

* The earlier decision not to bring in a Special Administration regime; and
* That it will not be making changes to the basis on which the current price caps at Heathrow and Stansted are set.

OUR COMMENT: No reference about the prevention and management of community and environmental effects of airport activities. Unfortunately the needs of passengers - to travel by plane - impinge on the needs of local people to avoid unnecessary and unhealthy exposure to noise and air pollution. The interests of both groups are equally important.

Pat Dale


John Ellul - Cambridge News - 22 July 2010

Noise campaigners have raised concerns after Stansted Airport received the green-light to handle so-called 'super jumbo' jets.

The operator was this week awarded Code F status by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), allowing aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the new Boeing 747-8 to operate from the airport.

Airport bosses hope the move will raise Stansted's profile and make the Essex hub more viable to a broader range of airlines, but Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) warned larger aircraft could lead to more sleepless nights for local residents.

Fresh from celebrating BAA's withdrawal of a second runway application in May after pressure from the coalition Government, SSE chairman Peter Sanders challenged the airport to prove the new carriers would not add to rising complaint figures. He said: "It's a very vague statement. At the moment complaints about noise have risen over 50 per cent from last year and a lot of them come from the A340 airbus operated by AirAsia, which operates many night flights. Stansted has permission for 35 million passenger movements a year, so there can't be any reduction in our work and we need to be just as vigilant as ever."

The official go-ahead follows months of work to demonstrate the airport's ability to handle larger planes and could pave the way for an increase in both passenger and cargo flights. Nick Barton, Stansted's commercial and development director, said: "It's a credit to the original designers of Stansted who showed astonishing vision in the 1980s to create an airport capable of handling the superjets of the future."

Some of the airlines which currently have the A380 'super jumbo' on order and could take advantage of Stansted's new status include Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Air France, Lufthansa and Emirates.

Following the decision, aircraft expert Matthew Knowles, spokesman for Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS), said that people can expect less noise at take-off from an airbus than passengers experience in a tube train. He said: "The Airbus A380 is more fuel-efficient than a hybrid car and produces less perceived noise at take-off than that experienced by a passenger inside a London Underground train."

OUR COMMENT: We have yet to experience the noise from the new jumbo, which is claimed to be quieter than its predecessors. As with all aircraft movements, a lot will depend on the number, and the management of routes and best practice flight operations. If more capacity means less flights, then the new plane may be welcome!

Pat Dale


The marsh is well known for its orchids - four species grow on the marsh

BBC News - 22 July 2010

A project to restore three hectares of ancient marshland at the National Trust's Hatfield Forest is complete.

Work began last November to clear the dense scrub which had covered the site. The wildlife-rich marsh is home to 90 species of plants, as well as rare birds like reed bunting and water rail, which have been in decline in Essex.

"Members of the public couldn't see the marsh existed, as there was a band of scrub around the outside," said National Trust warden Adam Maher.

The 1000-year old marsh is made up of three areas - marsh grasslands, reedbeds and sedge beds. The trust is going to be using a flock of 30 Wiltshire Horn sheep to keep the successive growth of hawthorn and blackthorn down.

Warden Adam Maher will be working with volunteers to maintain the site. "The sedge bed and reed bed are going to be cut on a rotation," said Mr Maher. "They will be split into blocks of four and then cut on a four-yearly rotation and the organic growth will be removed so we are not drying up the area. Basically it's getting drier. So that's what we want to stop. We're losing the actual thing that makes the site very important," he added.

The marsh is home to four different types of orchid - common spotted, Southern marsh, pyramidal and early marsh orchid. "It's very unique that there should be this many orchids growing together," said Mr Maher.

The project has reinstated a historic view towards the lake. The next stop for the marsh project is survey work. "Starting over the summer we're carrying out surveys on birds, reptiles, moths, plants, dragonflies and other invertebrates to get the best information we can," he said.

The marsh is open all year, except when grazed by sheep. Visitors are asked to keep to the fence line path to protect the fragile habitat.

OUR COMMENT: A reminder of the urgent need to reduce air pollution from the airport, which was in danger of extending into the north western areas of Hatfield Forest.

Pat Dale


Nick Thompson - Saffron Walden Reporter - 20 July 2010

ENGINEERING experts have urged the Government to rethink its plans for aviation and airport development, including its decision to ban new runways at Stansted and Heathrow.

In its Rethinking Aviation report published today (July 20), the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) warns that a 'better not bigger' approach to airport runway capacity could seriously undermine the UK's global connectivity and competitiveness.

ICE aviation expert Simon Godfrey-Arnold said the policy could result in the UK lagging behind North European rivals that have been boosting their hub runway capacity at a considerable rate.

He added: "We agree the green agenda must be priority, and realise that when it comes to the UK's airport infrastructure needs, there are some tough political and public choices. But we believe there are choices that can secure the best outcomes for the environment, society and the economy."

The Government has ruled out building additional runway capacity in the South East as part of the aim to reduce aviation emissions. The ICE agrees that unrestrained growth in demand for air travel without quick improvements in aircraft efficiency would damage the environment and needs addressing. But it urges the Government to think carefully about the UK's long-term airport infrastructure needs and the wider implications of its decision.

OUR COMMENT: More battles ahead!

Pat Dale


Saffron Walden Reporter - 6 July 2010

AIRPORT operator BAA has hit back at Uttlesford District Council's (UDC) demands that it sell back properties bought as part of a plan to build a second runway at Stansted Airport.

The council yesterday called for an early meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, to press for a binding commitment that residents will not have to endure a situation similar to that created by the 2002 aviation white paper.

The letter will also ask for a meeting with Philip Hammond MP, at which the council will impress upon the Government the impact of the airport on the local community and environment and ask for support to force BAA to sell back properties it purchased as part of the second runway scheme - known as G2. The council also wants to ask for a moratorium of at least 50 years on any new runway plans at Stansted.

However, a BAA spokesman said: "Stansted Airport has already made its position very clear - runways are nationally important pieces of infrastructure that only Government's can decide on, and we will respect and follow Government policy. We have already been invited to take part in Philip Hammond's S/E airports taskforce to look at the future of aviation, where we look forward to working with colleagues in the industry and Government to consider how airport capacity is best used to promote great service to passengers and to strengthen the UK's important global trading links and its future competitiveness."

"In an interview in the FT last Monday, Philip Hammond, when asked how else the country might answer the need for greater capacity, talked of the smarter use of airspace and 'spare capacity in the Stansted runway'. It should be acknowledged and recognised that all properties for G2 were purchased through voluntary schemes - not a single property was acquired via CPO."

"And neither have we decimated communities. On the contrary, we have done everything possible to keep communities going, including buying and supporting the local pub. As we said when withdrawing the planning applications, we are giving careful thought and consideration to this situation. We will adopt a responsible approach to our next steps, but there are lots of issues to consider. So far, we've had no interest whatsoever from anyone looking to buy back previously owned properties."

OUR COMMENT: Empty houses? Temporary lets? We hope not - local villages need re-populating if community life is to be properly restored.

Pat Dale


TravelMole - 13 July 2010

The number of trips made by Brits to foreign countries fell at the fastest rate since the 1970s in 2009, according to the Office for National Statistics. It recorded 58.6 million trips, compared to 69 million in 2008, and says the fall was mirrored by foreign visitors coming to Britain too, although not by as much (a drop from 31.1 million to 29.9 million).

ONS says the plummeting figures follows years of steady growth both into and out of the UK. Visits abroad have grown by 4% on average per year in the past 25 years and visits to the UK have grown at 3.2% on average. But business travel really suffered in 2009. A whopping 23% less visits were made by UK residents abroad for business purposes in 2009 compared to the previous year while 19% less visits were made into the UK from abroad.

Meanwhile, there was a drop of 15% in visits made from the UK abroad for holiday reasons and a drop of 6.5% for visiting friends and relatives. However, holiday-specific trips to the UK by overseas visitors rose in 2009, by 0.5 million from 10.9m in 2008 to 11.4m in 2009.

Little surprise, then, that Brits spent less abroad in 2009. We spent £5.1 billion less in 2009 despite the fact that a Brit's average length of stay abroad has extended from 9.9 nights in 2007 to 10.5 nights in 2009. Earnings from money spent by visitors from abroad coming to the UK rose, however, from £16.3 billion to £16.6 billion.

The ONS says London remains the most popular city to visit by foreigners, followed by Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingam, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge. The other way, not many countries saw a rise in visits from Brits.

Mexico suffered a 41% fall in visits but Egypt, Jamaica and Lithuania saw rises. That said, the combined visits to France and Spain, although they did not grow, still amount to 21.3 million of the total 58.6 million visits abroad that Brits made.

BAA traffic commentary: June 2010

BAA's passenger traffic in June was affected by British Airways cabin crew industrial action at the start of the month. BAA's UK airports handled 9.5 million passengers, a drop of 1.7% on June 2009. Without the impact of industrial action, it is estimated that Heathrow would have seen 140,000 more passengers last month and would have seen a 2.5% increase on last June.

The group's Scottish airports at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen were all affected by the British Airways industrial action, with drops of 2.0%, 7.0% and 4.0% respectively compared to June 2009. Southampton recorded a 3.7% increase and Stansted a drop of 5.2%. Group wide passenger numbers would have reached June 2009 levels without the impact of industrial action.

Overall, the UK airports recorded a drop of 3.1% in the number of air transport movements. Cargo traffic continued a period of strong growth, with tonnage up by 36.1% at Heathrow and by 33.7% at the wider group level.

OUR COMMENT: Stansted shows a significant loss of passenger traffic but a gain in cargo tonnage. We assume that this means more planes as Stansted's almost entirely short haul passenger services do not carry significant amounts of cargo. It is therefore very important that a satisfactory noise control policy is followed since cargo planes are, in general, bigger and usually noisier.

Pat Dale


The price of air travel should be increased to cut demand for flights
according to the country's leading engineers

David Millward, Transport Editor - Daily Telegraph - 14 July 2010

In a report published today the Institution of Civil Engineers has also warned that the Coalition's decision to scrap Heathrow's third runway could also leave Britain lagging behind its European rivals. The ICE believes a twin-track approach is essential to safeguard the future of aviation while protecting the environment.

"We agree the green agenda must be priority, and realise that when it comes to the UK's airport infrastructure needs, there are some tough political and public choices," said Simon Godfrey-Arnold, one of the authors of the report. "But we believe there are choices that can secure the best outcomes for the environment, society and the economy."

The report calls for a minimum carbon price to make flying more expensive. "One of the interesting things is where is the tipping point at which people would stop flying?" he added. "Air Passenger Duty is the nearest thing we have to passing the cost onto the consumer, but that doesn't seem to have had a significant impact on demand. That would suggest that it has to be far higher than the current rate."

Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, backed the engineers' proposals for pushing up the cost of flying. "All the evidence suggests that aviation is undertaxed compared to its real cost. It doesn't pay VAT on its activities and we need to recognise the fact. A carbon tax is one way of doing this."

However an easyJet spokesman disagreed. "Despite many misconceptions, aviation currently only contributes to 2% of global greenhouse gases. The key to sustainable aviation is 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."

The Institution has also said the Government should reconsider its policy on airport expansion, warning the decision to scrap Labour's plans for a third runway at Heathrow could cost the country dear. "Heathrow, with its two runways, is currently operating at 99% of permitted capacity. Journey times are increasing as aircraft become stacked up in queues both on the ground and in the air."

"Capacity constraints could result in international carriers abandoning our hub airport in favour of larger and more economically attractive northern European hubs, such as Amsterdam Schiphol which has five runways and Frankfurt which has three and a fourth in progress."

A DfT spokesman defended the Coalition's stance. "The Government recognises that aviation makes a vital contribution to the economy of this country. However, we cannot simply allow air traffic growth to continue at the levels it has in the past. Doing so risks unacceptable consequences in terms of noise and local air quality, quite apart from the global impacts in terms of CO2 emissions. That is why we have been clear that our focus must be on making major airports in the south east better, not bigger."

OUR COMMENT: Are the engineers a little confused? It seems they recognize that passenger air travel flights should be cut, if so, why waste money on expanding airports?

Pat Dale


A tangible means of addressing climate change

Airport Watch - 10 July 2010

UPS has expanded its carbon neutral shipping program to 35 countries and territories across Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The integrator's initiative allows customers to pay a small fee to calculate and offset the carbon emissions associated with their shipments.

UPS became the first small package carrier in the US to introduced such a program last fall, aiming to build on its legacy of sustainable business practices. The extended offering, including a contract version for customers who want to offset the carbon impact of all their shipments, will be available from July 12.

In addition to the international expansion, UPS is dramatically expanding access to the program in the US, making it available to all shippers at UPS.com and those who use UPS CampusShip. Online retailers who have integrated UPS into their websites will be able to offer their customers access to UPS carbon neutral. Customers who visit branches of The UPS Store and other retail locations will soon have access to the option.

In the US, the fee ranges from $0.05 for a ground package and $0.20 for an air package to $0.75 for an international package. Overseas, the flat fee will vary slightly by country depending on the type of service selected and the origin and destination of the shipment.

As a part of the initial launch, UPS purchased offsets from the Garcia River Forest Climate Action Project, overseen by The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund. The company will seek to extend its offset purchases to other regions worldwide in future.

"Our customers wanted a convenient, cost-effective means to address climate change in a real and tangible way", said Bob Stoffel, the senior vice president responsible for UPS's sustainability program. "To use this service simply requires ticking a box during the shipping process."


www.fhr-net.co.uk - 13 July 2010

Heathrow Airport operator BAA was part of a team which came together last week to create a so-called 'perfect flight'. Nats, BAA and British Airways worked on each individual stage of the flight to ensure it was optimised for minimal delay and carbon emissions.

The tests were carried out on the 19:30 BST service between Heathrow Airport and Edinburgh Airport and data from the flight will now be gathered an analysed to understand the impact of the improvements made.

It is believed that by optimising all processes up to a quarter of a tonne of fuel could have been saved, equating to nearly one tonne of CO2.

BAA Heathrow Airport airside operations director Colin Wood said: "The benefits should include reduced taxi time, lower carbon emissions, improved air and noise quality and lower airline fuel costs."

Heathrow Airport also began gearing up for the opening of a new satellite building near Terminal Five this week with the addition of three new cars on its underground train line. When T5C opens it will provide stands for 12 addition aircraft, including eight super jumbo A380s.


Relaxnews - 7 July 2010

Beijing International Airport has overtaken London Heathrow as the world's second busiest, in a sign of China's growing dominance of international travel. In terms of seat capacity, Beijing International is now second only to Atlanta Hartsfield in the US, according to a July 6 report by aviation analyst OAG.

Beijing's business has been boosted by a sharp growth in the number of passenger seats to Asia, a growth of nine percent which equates to some 15.3 million more seats flying to or from the region. Worldwide, the number of flights taking to the skies is set to grow five percent this month, to 2.7 million.

OAG's Peter von Moltke said that the "growth of air service in the Asia Pacific region has been strong for a number of years and can be expected to continue".

Despite the recession and turmoil in Greece, the number of flights within Europe also increased, up four percent with 623,637 flights scheduled for July. Both Central and South America and Africa also posted healthy gains in the number of flights available.

In North America, internal traffic is set to fall by 9,245 flights (a fall of one percent), but traffic to and from the region will increase by six percent to 98,403.

The World's Busiest Airports
Ranked by Seat Capacity, data from OAG

1. Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL)
2. Beijing (PEK)
3. London Heathrow (LHR)
4. Chicago O Hare (ORD)
5. Tokyo Haneda (HND)
6. Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
7. Los Angeles (LAX)
8. Frankfurt (FRA)
9. Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)

OUR COMMENT: Does it matter? What about efficiency?

Pat Dale

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