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

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - October to December 2013


Stagnation has made politicians, and perhaps voters, desperate
for anything that sounds like it might turn on the economic jets

Editorial - The Guardian - 17 December 2013

Westminster still looks the same, but when it debates aviation you can feel as if you've been bundled on to a plane and dropped in another country. Back in 2008/09, David Cameron told his newly greened Tories that "the right thing to do is not go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow". Meanwhile Ed Miliband was semi-publicly digging in against concrete and calamity from inside government. Both stood up for a planet being poisoned by flight, as well for more sustainable growth. This same pair of men now define the terms of political trade, and yet, as Sir Howard Davies's Airport Commission reported on Tuesday, the only argument was about where in England's crowded south-east a new runway should be built.

For boys (and it normally is boys) who grew up on Airfix, the draft maps of end-to-end runways at Heathrow and parallel landing strips at Gatwick made for compelling study. The inclusion of Boris Johnson's four-runway island airport as a half-baked half-option caught even non-planespotting eyes. Perhaps that was the aim, seeing as the actual analysis of the Davies commission dismissed the London mayor's fancy as "extremely expensive", citing a price of "around five times" the alternatives. But if we take seriously the words of Messrs Cameron and Miliband from a few years ago, it is not merely "Boris island" that is a distraction but the whole debate.

The old Mr Cameron warned that "If we don't act now, and act quickly, we could face disaster" from the climate. That danger has not gone away, and neither have Whitehall's own projections for a 50% rise of aviation emissions by 2050, projections that make a mockery of a supposedly binding commitment to cut 80% out of total greenhouse gases by the same date. A "plan and provide" approach will no more resolve this than solve traffic congestion; with roads and with airports alike, the better mantra is "Build it and they will come". This was the logic that initially led the coalition to reject Heathrow expansion, so why is it now, indulged if not quite supported by the opposition, drifting inexorably towards a new runway in the south-east?

"The economy, stupid" is a plausible-sounding answer, but it is stupidly amiss. Messrs Cameron and Miliband resisted airport expansion in 2008/09 as GDP plummeted, whereas today national income is picking up. The timescales make airport building immaterial to the recovery, but what about the longer term - don't globalising businesses simply demand that Britain lay on more flights? Not at all: business trips represents only 16% of overall UK flights, a proportion that has been dwindling as free video-conferencing dispenses with jetsetting meetings. The real pressures are trips home for an increasingly cosmopolitan population (a real issue, though a relatively modest proportion of overall flights) and, more particularly, holidays.

The opening up of foreign travel has been a wonderful thing in many ways, and any politician who dismissed the tourism of their constituents would soon get their just deserts. But passengers need to face the full environmental costs of their travel, and nobody ought to pretend that the path to higher productivity can be cut by more Britons going on holiday. Indeed, the UK's difficulties with the balance of payments are inflamed by a stubborn imbalance within the tourism sector - the draw of the sun ensures that Brits spend more abroad than foreigners spend here.

Even taking the figures at face value, the Davies report talks of a total economic benefit of 60bn, which sounds a lot but is far less than 0.1% of GDP over the many decades involved. As for the concern about more balanced growth - that concern about an overheating south-east and an investment-starved north that was once part of Mr Cameron's basis for rejecting Heathrow - you can forget it. Years of stagnation have made politicians, and perhaps the voters they represent, desperate for anything that sounds like it might turn on the economic jets - whether or not it will actually achieve liftoff.


Ancient woodland needs better protection, from development,
from 'offsetting' and from misinterpretation

Statement by The Woodland Trust - Woodland Trust Online - December 2013

Following the latest comments made by the Secretary of State for the Environment, we would like to make it absolutely clear - biodiversity offsetting does not work for ancient woods, the planning system doesn't work for ancient woods and this government doesn't work for ancient woods.

We must see better protection for ancient woodland as a habitat and better protection for ancient woods as valuable natural resources, before it's too late.

Guaranteeing full protection through Government policy could save this rare and precious habitat but through experience, we know that will be tough.

OUR COMMENT: No offsetting for Hatfield Forest! - already threatened by the further development of Stansted airport.

Pat Dale


Airports Commission Press Release - 17 December 2013

The independent review concludes that there is a need for one additional runway to be in operation in the south east of the UK by 2030.

The Airports Commission's independent review into airport capacity and connectivity in the UK has concluded that there is a need for one net additional runway to be in operation in the south east by 2030. Its analysis also indicates that there is likely to be a demand case for a second additional runway to be operational by 2050.

These conclusions are valid across a range of assumptions about future demand growth, and are consistent with the Committee of Climate Change's advice to government on meeting its legislated climate change targets.

The Airports Commission's interim report published today (17 December 2013) has announced that it will be taking forward for further detailed study proposals for new runways at two locations:

Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport Ltd's proposal for a new runway to the south of the existing runway

Heathrow Airport (two options)
Heathrow Airport Ltd's proposal for one new 3,500m runway to the northwest
Heathrow Hub's proposal to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m, enabling the extended runway to operate as two independent runways.

The next phase of its work will see the Commission undertaking a detailed appraisal of the three options identified before a public consultation in autumn next year. The Commission has not shortlisted any of the Thames Estuary options because there are too many uncertainties and challenges surrounding them at this stage. It will undertake further study of the Isle of Grain option in the first half of 2014 and will reach a view later next year on whether that option offers a credible proposal for consideration alongside the other short-listed options.

The Commission has not shortlisted proposals for expansion at Stansted or Birmingham, however, there is likely to be a case for considering them as potential options for any second new runway by 2050. In its final report the Commission will set out its recommendations on the process for decision making on additional capacity beyond 2030.

The report also contains recommendations to the government for immediate action to improve the use of existing runway capacity.
* An 'optimisation strategy' to improve the operational efficiency of UK airports and airspace, including:
* Airport collaborative decision making
* Airspace changes supporting performance based navigation
* Enhanced en-route traffic management to drive tighter adherence to schedules
* Time based separation

* A package of surface transport improvements to make airports with spare capacity more attractive to airlines and passengers, including the enhancement of Gatwick Airport Station and further work to develop a strategy for enhancing Gatwick's road and rail access
* Work on developing proposals to improve the rail link between London and Stansted
* Work to provide rail access into Heathrow from the south
* The provision of smart ticketing facilities at airport stations
* Trials at Heathrow of measures to smooth the early morning arrival schedule to minimise stacking and delays and to provide more predictable respite for local people
* The establishment of an Independent Noise Authority to provide expert and impartial advice about the noise impacts of aviation and to facilitate the delivery of future improvements to airspace operations

Launching the report Sir Howard Davies Chair of the Commission said:
Decisions on airport capacity are important national strategic choices and must be based upon the best evidence available. The Commission has undertaken a fresh, comprehensive and transparent study of the issues. This report is the product of extensive consultation, independent analysis and careful consideration by the commissioners.

The UK enjoys excellent connectivity today. The capacity challenge is not yet critical but it will become so if no action is taken soon and our analysis clearly supports the provision of one net additional runway by 2030. In the meantime we encourage the government to act on our recommendations to make the best of our existing capacity.

The Commission will now focus on the challenge of appraising the three options, further assessing the case for a new airport in the Thames Estuary, and delivering a robust final recommendation to government in summer 2015.

The report notes the historic failure to deliver new airport capacity in the UK and the Commission's independent approach to the challenge. It confirms that a fresh look at the UK's aviation needs was timely and necessary, setting out how much the global economy, the aviation industry and the domestic and international policy environment has evolved since the government last considered these issues in the 2003 'Air transport white paper'.

The report sets out how well connected the UK is currently; how effectively the UK aviation industry has innovated and adapted to change and emerging capacity constraints to remain a world leader; and how new aircraft, new markets and the need to address climate change will present new opportunities and challenges. The report identifies that negative impacts are likely to proliferate as capacity constraints intensify, including in the areas of resilience, connectivity, economic growth and passenger experience.

To inform its assessment of need the Commission has improved how future aviation demand is forecast. It has reviewed the assumptions in the existing model, considered the impact of a carbon constraint to take account of the UK's current environmental commitments and employed scenario testing to evaluate its key conclusions. The Commission also considered whether the UK requires additional hub or non-hub capacity. It has concluded that the UK will need an airport system that can support both hub and non-hub capacity, and cater for a range of airline business models.


Matt Hunter - EADT Online - 17 December 2013

Stansted Airport has not been included in options to expand the country's aviation capacity, it has been announced today.

This morning the Airports Commission has announced proposals which could see new runways at Gatwick and Heathrow but not Stansted. The independent review concludes that there is a need for one additional runway to be in operation in the south east of the UK by 2030. The commission's analysis also indicates that there is likely to be a demand case for a second additional runway to be operational by 2050.

In a statement released this morning the Airports Commission said: "The Commission has not shortlisted proposals for expansion at Stansted or Birmingham, however, there is likely to be a case for considering them as potential options for any second new runway by 2050. In its final report the Commission will set out its recommendations on the process for decision making on additional capacity beyond 2030."

The proposal to be considered for Gatwick Airport could see one new runway to the south of the existing one. There are two options for Heathrow: proposals for one new 3,500m runway to the northwest or plans to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m, enabling the extended runway to operate as two independent runways.

The commission has not ruled out future plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary but said there are "too many uncertainties and challenges" at this stage for it to be considered.

Sir Howard Davies, chair of the commission, said: "Decisions on airport capacity are important national strategic choices and must be based upon the best evidence available. The commission has undertaken a fresh, comprehensive and transparent study of the issues. This report is the product of extensive consultation, independent analysis and careful consideration by the commissioners."


Brian Groom, Business and Employment Editor - Financial Times - 17 December 2013

For a country hoping to be a winner in what David Cameron likes to call the "global race", the UK has sometimes given a good impression of being unable to get out of the starting blocks. Its failure to tackle the issue extra airport runway capacity in southeast England, its most populous region, has been lamentable. One proposal after another over 50 years has been espoused and then dropped after political opposition.

The result is that the London's airports are losing international business to Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris. The country's efforts to develop trade and investment with countries such as Brazil, India and China are hamstrung by constraints on direct flights.

The interim report of Sir Howard Davies's Airport Commission offers a chance to break the doleful cycle. He has proposed one extra runway by 2030, with demand likely to justify a second by 2050. He has narrowed the options for runways to three - two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.

A potential fourth, a runway in the Thames estuary backed by London mayor Boris Johnson, is to be evaluated and could theoretically be added next year, though the difficulties raised by Sir Howard make this seem unlikely. He says it would cost about five times the other options at up to 112bn and have a serious environmental impact.

Sir Howard has done about as much as he could to narrow it down to the realistic options before making his final recommendation after the next general election in 2015. He is attempting to build on what little political consensus exists.

That remains fragile. For many businesses that would like to see Heathrow, the UK's main hub, expand, it is welcome to see that option, which the coalition had declared dead, come back to life. For that we have to thank George Osborne, the chancellor, who belatedly saw its importance to the UK's economic future.

But many difficulties lie ahead. Campaigns against Heathrow expansion will reignite. It remains a divisive issue for the Conservatives, while the Liberal Democrats still oppose runway expansion in the southeast. Labour, which backed an extra Heathrow runway in office, will not commit to endorsing Sir Howard's recommendations in advance.

Sir Howard must also evaluate Heathrow's case that having a leading international hub is what matters, against Gatwick's argument that it is better placed to support growth in budget airlines.

Failure to address the capacity shortage would, as the report says, have "increasingly detrimental effects on the national economy, businesses, and air passengers".

It calculates a relatively modest cost to the wider economy if the UK fails to build extra capacity: a cumulative 30bn-45bn by 2080, or up to 0.09 per cent of annual national income. But it advises caution about this figure, which does not include the impact on productivity.

Some may see that as a price worth paying to preserve the environment. It is, on the contrary, the difference between signalling that the UK wants to be among the most competitive nations, and resigning itself to trailing behind.


Saffron Walden Reporter - 17 December 2013

This morning the Airports Commission has announced proposals which could see a new runway at either Gatwick and Heathrow, but not Stansted.

Brian Ross, economics adviser for campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "We are obviously greatly relieved that Stansted is not on the shortlist. The environmental consequences of even one extra runway would have been catastrophic and the fact is that there has never been a viable business case for any extra runways at Stansted. The airport currently operates at less than half of its potential capacity."

The proposal to be considered for Gatwick Airport could see one new runway to the south of the existing one. There are two options for Heathrow: proposals for one new 3,500m runway to the northwest or plans to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m, enabling the extended runway to operate as two independent runways.

The commission has also not ruled out future plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary but said there are "too many uncertainties and challenges" at this stage for it to be considered.

Mr Ross added: "We must now show solidarity with the communities around Heathrow and Gatwick and support their efforts in resisting the threat that they now face."

A final report is due by the summer of 2015.


Matt Hunter - EADT Online - 17 December 2013

A group which opposes the expansion of Stansted Airport has welcomed today's announcement that a new runway will not be built there in the immediate future.

The Airports Commission has shortlisted three options to build a new runway in the country by 2030 but has not included Stansted. Gatwick and Heathrow are the two airports which could be where the runway is constructed following the independent review.

Brian Ross, economics adviser to the Stop Stansted Expansion group, said: "We are obviously greatly relieved that Stansted is not on the shortlist. The environmental consequences of even one extra runway would have been catastrophic and the fact is that there has never been a viable business case for any extra runways at Stansted. The airport currently operates at less than half of its potential capacity. We must now show solidarity with the communities around Heathrow and Gatwick and support their efforts in resisting the threat that they now face."

In a statement released by the Airports Commission it said: "The Commission has not shortlisted proposals for expansion at Stansted or Birmingham, however, there is likely to be a case for considering them as potential options for any second new runway by 2050. In its final report the Commission will set out its recommendations on the process for decision making on additional capacity beyond 2030."

Chief executive for Manchester Airports Group, which is responsible for Stansted, said: "Stansted welcomes the commission's support for measures to increase capacity at the airport in the short term, including improving rail links between the airport and central London. We also support the commission's finding that Stansted is one of the viable options for a runway beyond 2030."

"Stansted has a bright future, indeed we are the only London airport that can grow substantially in the next ten years. Since we took ownership in February this year we have already signed up new airlines and destinations to meet growing passenger demand. Our immediate priority is to continue to transform the airport experience for our passengers."


Dunmow Broadcast - 17 December 2013

Uttlesford District Council is "relieved" that proposals for additional runways at Stansted Airport have not been recommended to the Government in the latest report looking at airport growth in the south-east.

The Airports Commission Interim Report, published today, has omitted any recommendation for additional runways at Stansted in favour of airport expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Cllr Jackie Cheetham, deputy leader at the district council, said: "We are pleased our views have been considered and that the commission has responded in our favour. This is good news for the district and our residents. We have campaigned long and hard against a second (or more) runways at Stansted which we believe would not be viable if additional runway capacity is brought forward at Heathrow by 2030 and another runway provided at Gatwick. Further runways at Stansted would have a significant impact on the environment and the lives of our residents."

"We are pleased this has been endorsed and recognised by the Commission in its report today and we will now be calling on this and future Governments to heed the Commission's recommendations when preparing the National Policy Statement on aviation."

The council has been reaffirming its opposition to an additional runway at Stansted for many years. The authority says that it not only fears an additional runaway will have "a detrimental impact upon the environment and the lives of residents" but it also believes an additional runway "would not be built unless Heathrow were closed, a policy that is difficult to contemplate".

Cllr Cheetham added: "We do recognise the benefits that Stansted brings to the district and neighbouring authorities in terms of jobs, investment and air transport services sought by businesses, but in agreement with MAG, the airports owner, we recognise that the airport is still operating under capacity and can still expand and grow within its current permissions."

"We welcome the recommendations on improving the rail link between London and Stansted outlined in the report. This will improve access to the airport whist at the same time enhancing the rail link to London for our residents. It is possible that an additional runway at Stansted could be proposed in the 2040s and the council will continue to pay close attention to the airport development debate."

Cllr Jim Ketteridge, leader of of the council said: "We are of course pleased with today's announcement and I would like to think that our representations, both written and verbal, made some impact on the Commission. We will now be talking to Stansted Airport's owners about making the best economic use of the existing runway."


Press Release - HACAN - 17 December 2013

Heathrow campaigners branded the Airport Commission's Interim Report, issued today, as 'the trigger to 18 months of intense campaigning against Heathrow expansion'.

The Commission argues that there will be the need for one new runway in London and the South East by 2030. Over the next 18 months the Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, will assess whether that runway should be at Gatwick or Heathrow. The report has rejected plans to expand Stansted. Davies has real doubts about the viability of an Estuary Airport and proposes to rule it in or out in 6 months time. The only Estuary option he will assess is the Isle of Grain. Davies has said that he does not believe two new runways will be required for the foreseeable future.

At Heathrow the Commission has dropped the option of a new runway to the south of the airport, largely because of the difficulties posed by the reservoirs. It has also dropped plans for a new runway demolishing Sipson.

It is to look at two options in more detail:
A runway to be built to the North West of the existing airport, as proposed by Heathrow Airport. This would require significant demolition in Longford and Harmondsworth. A new flightpath would see planes landing over Notting Hill, Holland Park, the northern parts of Chiswick and Southall.

The new northern runway proposed by the promoters of the 'Heathrow Hub'. Their proposal is to move the existing northern runway two miles further west and extend it so that a new runway is created. One would be used for landings; the other for take-offs.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flights paths, said, "Although Davies's proposals focus less on Heathrow than had been rumoured, there is little doubt they will act as the trigger to 18 months of intense campaigning against Heathrow expansion. A new runway will increase planes from 480,000 a year to 560,000. There is no way overall noise levels will decrease."

Stewart added, "The scale of the opposition will be so great that we believe that they are politically undeliverable and should have been dropped at this stage."

Davies will also be recommending short-term measures which could be implemented within the next five years.

He wants to see:
Better use of airspace
Improved surface access to existing airports
Some experiments which allow more night flights before 6am in exchange for longer respite periods

The final report of the Airports Commission is due to be published in summer 2015, two months after the next General Election.


ITV News Online - 17 December 2013

Thirty thousand people would be negatively affected by plans to build a new runway at Gatwick Airport, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign said.

The campaign group have drawn up a list of possible flight plans, should the project be given the go ahead. The plans were made in consultation with air traffic control experts, as airports are currently not required to publish flight paths before the runways are built, Brendon Sewill, Chairman of the campaign said.

"A new runway would mean an extra thirty thousand people would be afflicted with noise pollution, bringing the total across the area to 42,000."

He said: "We are not surprised as we always expected matter into focus, but we know we are in for a big battle. Howard Davies says we don't need a new runway until 2030 and the plans are not until 2040, but we need to fight like mad to stop a decision that will afflict the whole of Sussex, and much of Surrey and Kent."

"We are agreed with national environmental organisations that any new runway anywhere is not compatible with the national enviromental policies. Also, the main concern about a new runway in Gatwick is that it would mean the inwards migration of a large number of people from the rest of UK, or from the EU with the need for 40,000 new houses, according to West Sussex County council."


WWF warns airport expansion is incompatible with UK's
legally binding target of 80% reduction in emissions by 2050

Sophie Yeo - Flickr/Caribb - 16 December 2013

Any airport expansion - at Heathrow or elsewhere - would put the UK on track to break its legally binding target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, says the environmental campaigning group.

The warning comes ahead of a report set to be published on Tuesday by economist Howard Davies. This is expected to suggest any new expansion to London's airport capacity is located at Heathrow.

"We simply can't 'magic' these emissions away by expecting a cap & trade scheme (such as the troubled European Emissions Trading System) to offset this growth," said WWF-UK's David Nussbaum. "Nor is any global aviation deal in sight to offset UK emissions growth from airport expansion."

Nussbaum also questions the business case for the proposal, the main rationale of the supporters for the extra runway. According to WWF analysis, business flying has fallen by 23% since 2000 - part of a long term trend based on the fact that more businesses are using technology such as video conferencing. Users are projected to increase by 183 million by 2016, according to figures from Cisco.

The aviation industry is committed to carbon neutral growth from 2020, which is expected to be achieved through improvements in the efficiency of the aviation sector, with the remainder dealt with through carbon offset credits. The UN's aviation body, ICAO, will consider establishing a global emissions trading scheme for the aviation in 2016, although observers to the industry suggest that an offsetting deal currently seems the most likely option. The EU already trades aviation emissions within its own airspace, but the UK is currently trying to kill suggestions that this should also include international flights.

Bumpy ride
Politically, this is a divisive subject in the UK, with the Coalition Government rejecting previous plans to construct a third runway when they came into power in 2010. London Mayor Boris Johnson has already condemned any plans for a third runway from an environmental perspective, and has refused to commit his loyalty to David Cameron should the Prime Minister back Heathrow expansion.

In a letter dated from July this year, Lord Deben, the head of the Climate Change Committee, told Davies that, since aviation emissions are included in the UK's target under the Climate Change Act, any growth in the sector would have to come at the cost of deeper cuts elsewhere.

"[T]he higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other sectors to meet the economy-wide target," wrote Lord Deben. "Given the need to limit aviation demand growth in a carbon constrained world, we recommend that this should be reflected in your economic analysis of alternative investments."

In other words, as it is difficult to reduce emissions from aeroplanes, other sectors would have to cut emissions by 85% on 1990 levels, rather than the 80% dictated by the Climate Change Act, in order to make room for the aviation sector. Based on the current possibilities for decarbonising other sectors and technological improvement to flying, this means aviation must grow no more than 60% on 2005 levels.


James Landale, Deputy Political Editor - BBC News Online - 17 December 2013

Oh dear. It was not supposed to be like this. Both Conservative and Labour politicians had hoped that the controversial question of expanding airport capacity in the south of England had been delayed until after the election. That is why the Airports Commission was asked to report after May 2015. The Conservatives, in particular, had hoped to go to the polls with a constructively ambiguous manifesto saying they supported the commission but would not prejudge its conclusions.

But Sir Howard Davies' interim report leans so far towards expanding London Heathrow that it will make harder for the parties to maintain their collective omerta for the next 18 months. This is why:

1. Opponents of Heathrow expansion, whether Boris Johnson, Zac Goldsmith or other residents on the ground, will be more vocal now they have a target. They will not let this matter rest. One local Labour MP, John McDonnell, talks of the "biggest, greenest, direct action campaign ever". Mr Goldsmith threatens by-elections. Opponents believe that expanding Heathrow is politically impossible and will do their utmost to make that case. In the face of such an onslaught, it will be hard for the party leaderships to stay silent.

2. Some in Labour will feel tempted to come out in favour of Heathrow expansion to display their pro-growth credentials at a time when the party is searching for economic credibility. The fact that this approach might also discomfit and divide the Tories would be a Brucey bonus. Ed Miliband is still said to be "sceptical" about Heathrow expansion but that is often said by Labour insiders with a knowing smile, and publicly frontbenchers talk of trusting the Davies commission and its work.

3. Some Conservative ministers might want to cut their losses and express their private support for Heathrow expansion publicly. Can the Tories, they argue, really go into the next election as the pro-growth party without saying what they would do on one of the biggest long term investment issues this country faces? George Osborne, we are told, is much more supportive of Heathrow expansion than he once was. And, these ministers point out, if you want to drive airport expansion through, it would be better to have put it to the electorate first so you can claim some kind of mandate when the going gets rough.

4. Other Conservatives argue that the party effectively carried out its U-turn on Heathrow when it set up the Davies commission without repeating their manifesto commitment to rule out a third runway. And if you have sold the pass, they argue, if you are facing accusations of betrayal, you might as well be upfront and make the case. They say that either way, by supporting the Davies process, the Tories will have to go into the election with a manifesto that no longer rules out Heathrow expansion. So why not take the hit now rather than closer to the next election?

As for Boris Johnson, his favoured solution of a hub in the Thames estuary east of London lives to fight another day - just. As he said, it is "not dead yet". So the potential for all out war between the London mayor and the Conservative Party is put on hold until next year. Mr Johnson can now spend the next few months making the case for east London rather than opposing Heathrow. But Sir Howard Davies says he will decide finally on whether the east London option will make it onto the formal shortlist next year. And if he rules against it, then the potential for fireworks between City Hall and Downing Street is huge.

So today both the Tories and Labour will welcome Sir Howard Davies' interim conclusions but they will be carefully non-committal about what they plan to do. The question now is how long that position remains tenable.


Adam Bienkov - Politics Online - 17 December 2013

Boris Johnson has spent the best part of six years and millions of pounds of public money in promoting a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary. He has chaired committees, toured the globe and even captained a ship from Tower Bridge to Kent to visit the proposed sites. With a few clicks of his keyboard, Sir Howard Davies today ruled all of that work null and void.

Johnson's first choice of a purpose-built island airport in the Estuary does not even get a mention in the airports commission's report. His second choice of an airport on the Isle of Grain has also failed to make the shortlist. Even expansion at Stansted, which Johnson wanted put under the microscope for 3 million of taxpayers' money, has been ruled out by Davies.

Unlike most victims of ritual humiliation, Johnson was at least offered some consolation by Davies. Put under pressure by the government to avoid a full on confrontation with the mayor, Davies today inserted a couple of paragraphs suggesting that he will study the Isle of Grain proposals for possible future inclusion on the shortlist next year.


Cambridge News - 2 December 2013

Campaigners have lost the latest legal battle against possible expansion at Stansted Airport.

A High Court judge rejected their accusation that the key criteria being applied to decide on potential options for new runway sites in England were "infected by apparent bias". The Stop Stansted Expansion group (SSE) had asked Mrs Justice Patterson, sitting in London, to order the Government-appointed Airports Commission, which was set up last year to address the issue of aviation expansion in the UK, to delay the publication of any options short-list until the criteria have been looked at again and consulted on. SSE said there was apparent bias because of the conduct of Geoff Muirhead, a recently resigned member of the Commission.

The judge ruled that both Mr Muirhead and the Commission might have acted in a way that was not "the most wise" and their conduct could have been regarded by a fair-minded observer as "less than ideal". But the apparent bias accusation was not supported by the evidence.

The court heard that Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owner of Stansted since February, submitted proposals to the Commission for a two-runway option at Stansted, and also a four-runway hub airport option which would make Stansted the largest airport in the world. Aviation expert Mr Muirhead is a former chief executive of MAG. In September, he stepped down as one of the five commissioners appointed by the Commission after SSE warned Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin they would take legal action if he stayed.

SSE said he retired as MAG's chief executive after 22 years with the group but was then immediately reappointed as "a highly paid ambassador to MAG, a role he continued to fulfil even after he was appointed to the Airports Commission".

Today, Mrs Justice Patterson observed that a "fair minded and informed observer would not have regarded the actions of Mr Muirhead in remaining as a commissioner until September 20, or those of the Commission in retaining him, as the most wise." But she ruled a "defensive strategy" was adopted so that, "although the conduct of both parties was less than ideal", a "fair-minded and informed observer" would not have been satisfied there was "a real possibility of bias". Such decisions that were made at the time were "provisional only".

Dismissing the legal challenge, the judge ordered SSE to pay legal costs of up to 10,000.

The unsucessful application for judicial review was brought by Peter Sanders and Brian Ross, described as "long-standing and key" members of SSE, which wants to contain the development of the airport "within sustainable limits". They asked the High Court to order the Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, "to revisit certain key decisions made by the Commission during the time that Mr Muirhead was involved".

Campaign Group React To Ruling
In a statement after today's ruling, SSE said the judge was critical of the Commission for not being more transparent about Mr Muirhead's consultancy arrangements. SSE said: "The point she was referring to was that neither Geoff Muirhead nor the Commission had made any formal declaration that he was still being paid 150,000 a year by MAG when he was appointed to the Commission."

"Although SSE has achieved its principal objective in pursuing this legal challenge, namely the removal of Mr Muirhead from the Commission, SSE still has some concerns about the integrity of the process going forward. Some of SSE's concerns were addressed in the course of the legal proceedings as a result of confidential information disclosed by the Commission in witness statements and exhibits, including the minutes of internal meetings."

"Despite its public commitment to be open and transparent, the Airports Commission considers that it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Therefore, much of the information released to SSE as a result of its legal proceedings could not otherwise have been obtained."

"Because there is so much at stake, and because the position is still not entirely satisfactory, SSE needs time to give proper consideration to the judge's 60-page ruling and to discuss it in detail with its legal advisers before deciding whether there are aspects of the judgment that need to be taken to the Court of Appeal."


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 9 December 2013

Now in its 12th year, SSE's 2014 calendar features photos of the area, selected from work submitted by local photographers. This time they range from Saffron Walden in the north to Bardfield Saling in the east, Standon in the west and Sawbridgeworth in the south. Other places featured are Quendon, Stansted Mountfitchet, Bishop's Stortford, Hatfield Forest, Great Hallingbury, Spellbrook, High Easter and Pleshey.

Saffron Walden constituency's Conservative veteran Sir Alan showed his support for the calendar by visiting the SSE campaign trailer at Saffron Walden market on Saturday morning (December 7) to pick up his own copy.

Sir Alan took the opportunity to confirm his support for SSE's opposition to any new runways at Stansted: "Any proposal to make Stansted bigger than today's Heathrow would be an absolute disaster for the local environment and would make no economic sense."

SSE chairman Peter Sanders paid tribute to all the volunteers involved in producing and selling the SSE Community Calendar, saying: "We are tremendously grateful to Ray Woodcock and his calendar sales team for their commitment and dedication. Their efforts not only make an important contribution to our campaign funds but also, they remind everyone that this area of North Essex and East Herts is very special and deserves our protection for future generations."

For further information about the calendar call 01279 870558.


Phil Davies - Travel Weekly Online - 27 November 2013

An independent noise ombudsman should be established to help cut down on disruption people living under flight paths and near airports, says Virgin Atlantic.

The airline - which carries more than five million passengers a year from UK airports - is calling for a noise watchdog in the UK, as is in place in other countries including France. Currently the only government legislation on aviation noise covers night flights. The Civil Aviation Authority monitors noise impact at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted but other airports have to monitor their own noise levels.

Virgin is calling for an independent, government-appointed ombudsman to record and report on noise for residents across the country, the London Evening Standard reported. The watchdog should also "have the ability to introduce noise measures in a fair and sustainable manner," according to the airline.

Virgin has set itself a target of a 75% reduction in noise energy per flight by 2020. It will be meeting MPs, industry groups and residents in the coming weeks.

The Airports Commission sought views on this topic having said that "when consulting on its Aviation Policy framework, the Government considered giving the Civil Aviation Authority a role in providing independent oversight of airports' noise management, but decided against the idea as additional regulatory costs could not be justified."

OUR COMMENT: Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said in its submission to the Airports Commission that "independent oversight of an airport's noise management is long overdue and we believe that this is a role which could be given to the CAA". There is Government legislation on aviation noise for the day as well as for "night flights". But both are lamentably weak because the metrics used are wholly inappropriate. And SSE said this to the Airports Commission and proposed improved metrics.

The Civil Aviation Authority does not monitor "noise impact at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted". It merely published noise contours once a year. Which is why we are calling for an independent watchdog of an airport's noise management. Virgin's 75% noise energy reduction target per flight by 2020 sounds impressive. But it is playing with numbers and logarithms. To put the claim into perspective, a 50% noise energy reduction is only 3 decibels. And a change of 3 decibels is the minimum perceptible under normal conditions.

Martin Peachey
SSE adviser on noise


Ben Garside - Reuters London - 28 November 2013

Britain, France and Germany want to curtail further a European Union plan to regulate CO2 emissions from flights, setting up a clash with Brussels keen to maintain the bloc's climate policy which has sparked threats of a global trade war.

The EU's three biggest economies want to regulate emissions from domestic EU flights only, scaling back a Brussels proposal that would charge any airline for emissions made over European airspace, British and EU officials said Thursday. "We currently feel that a scope covering flights within the European Economic Area would be the best way (forward)," a UK government spokesman said, referring only to Britain's position.

That represents a climb-down from the EU's unified position in September, when the bloc entered negotiations at the U.N.'s aviation body ICAO aiming to craft a global agreement to curb the fast rising output of heat-trapping gases from aviation.

The nearly 190 nations at ICAO agreed to design a global scheme by 2016 that would not take effect until 2020 but rejected letting Europe apply its own plan to foreign carriers in the meantime. Just weeks after the ICAO meeting, the European Commission revived its proposal, insisting Europe was within its rights to regulate aircraft emissions within its own airspace.

To be made law the proposal needs the support of both EU member states and the European Parliament, which appears to back it. "The key players in Parliament are at the moment in favor of airspace... though so far we didn't have any (formal) debate," said a spokesman for German MEP Peter Liese, who is steering the proposal through the assembly.

He said Liese was aware that Britain, France and Germany wanted to weaken the proposal. Representatives of France and Germany's environment ministries were not immediately available for comment.

The three countries accommodate some of the EU's biggest aviation interests, including carriers IAG, Deutsche Lufthansa and Air-France-KLM as well as Airbus, the bloc's flagship aircraft manufacturer.

The European Union in 2012 started charging all airlines for emissions for the full duration of their flights into and out of the bloc via its Emissions Trading Scheme, but suspended the non-EU part amid complaints from countries including the United States, China and Russia. China ratcheted up pressure by delaying multi-billion euro orders for Airbus planes and both Chinese and Indian airlines refused to comply with the scaled-down obligations.

The law's suspension will be automatically lifted if no new law is agreed by April next year, potentially putting all airlines back on the hook for the charges. "Negotiations are still at a relatively early stage, albeit with clear time pressures, and we will be discussing this with other member states and MEPs over the coming days and weeks with a view to finding an acceptable compromise," the British spokesman said.

OUR COMMENT: Climate Change Action - Postponed again!

Part Dale


BBC News - 22 November 2013

Criteria underpinning decisions over new runways are "infected by apparent bias", a campaign group claims.

The Airports Commission was set up in 2012 to examine runway capacity and future "connectivity needs". Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) claims a former commissioner had a conflict of interest and says the High Court should delay any publication of options. The Department for Transport denies claims of bias and said "decisions taken to date are robust".

At the High Court in London, Mrs Justice Patterson said she will make a decision on the matter in writing at a later date. The campaign group's claims centre on the role of Geoff Muirhead, who is a former former chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted since February. In September, he stepped down as one of the five commissioners appointed by the Commission after SSE warned Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin they would take legal action if he stayed.

SSE claims he retired as MAG's chief executive after 22 years with the group but was then immediately reappointed as "a highly paid ambassador to MAG, a role he continued to fulfil even after he was appointed to the Airports Commission". Stop Stansted Expansion campaign Stop Stansted Expansion wants publication of any option shortlists delayed.

'Acted properly'
Brian Ross, SSE's economics adviser, said: "With proposals on the table from MAG to make Stansted the world's busiest airport with four runways handling up to 160 million passengers a year, there is far too much at stake to allow the issue of apparent bias to go unchallenged. For almost a year, Mr Muirhead was allowed to play a pivotal role on the commission as its only commissioner with first hand knowledge and experience of the aviation industry."

Mr Ross said it was not enough simply to remove Mr Muirhead from the Commission. SSE wants the High Court to order the commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, "to re-visit certain key decisions made by the Commission during the time that Mr Muirhead was involved".

The Department for Transport maintain that Mr Muirhead "acted properly" at the commission but stood down to "avoid any perception of a potential conflict of interest". A DfT spokesman said: "Both the department and Sir Howard agree that there is no evidence whatsoever of bias and the Airports Commission is content that decisions taken to date are robust."

An Airports Commission spokesman rejected SSE's claims and described its processes to date as "appropriate and robust". The spokesman said its selection criteria "were informed by public consultation and incorporate a wide range of environmental, economic and social factors - including local environmental issues such as impacts on landscape and the built heritage."


Public Sector Travel Online - 20 November 2013

Stansted could double its number of passengers without a new runway and start offering intercontinental links, a local authority-backed report has said.

In evidence to the Airports Commission's review of south east capacity, the London, Stansted and Cambridge Consortium said the airport had the potential to be a strong driver of growth and important alternative to expansion elsewhere.

Stansted was bought earlier this year by Manchester Airport Group, which has said it wants to expand the facility, which could double its current 17.5m passengers a year without any new runway.

The report said: "The focus of Manchester Airports Group, is about filling the airport's unused capacity. We are determined to support Stansted to grow to its full agreed capacity, representing a doubling of current passenger numbers and delivering much needed long-haul flights."

Research for the consortium by consultancy Oxford Economics said growth up to the current capacity would bring more than 8,000 additional jobs and a number of new international routes.

An extra runway would add 5.9bn to the local economy and more than 30,000 new jobs by 2050, while a new five runway hub airport would add 14.8bn and almost 100,000 jobs.

The report said Stansted could already handle take the world's largest airliners. "While the medium term percentage increases projected for long haul are disappointing, the consortium believes that the proactive approach of the new owners, coupled with the scale of the demand in east London, Cambridgeshire and the wider eastern region, could deliver these services faster," it said. "However using the passive projections and just using the current runway to full capacity there is a strong potential for growing long-haul flights to 15% of Stansted's traffic."

It warned though that Stansted's rail links to London and to Cambridge and Peterborough would need "significant investment" to keep pace with any such expansion. The consortium backing the report includes the local enterprise partnerships for Hertfordshire and for Cambridge and Peterborough, Essex County Council and the London Borough of Enfield.

But Uttlesford District Council, which covers the airport, disagreed. Deputy leader Jackie Cheetham, said: "Despite these latest growth forecasts, we are still adamant that a second runway is not needed at Stansted Airport. There is no evidence whatsoever that additional runways are needed to meet predicted passenger demand and it is still unclear as to whether the practicalities of airport expansion have been fully considered."


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 21 November 2013

A LEADING business organisation has highlighted the significant benefits that Crossrail 2 could bring for the millions of passengers travelling to and from Stansted Airport.

Speaking at the airport's 13th Transport Forum today (Thursday, November 21), David Leam, director of infrastructure at London First, told delegates that even if Crossrail 2 did not serve the airport directly, it would improve rail journey times and bring Stansted even closer to people living in and around London. "We face a stark choice: keep investing in our transport network to keep pace with population and jobs growth - or let congestion hold us back," he said.

"Crossrail 2 is a proposed new rail service connecting south-west, central and north-east London that could transform journeys for millions of passengers. This includes benefits for Stansted through the creation of additional tracks to at least as far as Broxbourne, allowing more and quicker journeys to the airport and bringing it even closer into London's orbit," he said.

The forum, which took place at the airport's Radisson Blu Hotel, saw more than 100 community representatives, local councillors and public transport experts attend a workshop and hear from speakers including Mr Leam, Stansted Airport managing director Andrew Harrison, Essex County Council's head of passenger transport, John Pope, and motivational speaker Jim Lawless. The annual event showcases the continuous work the airport undertakes to improve surface access and highlights targets for the future.

Speaking at his first Transport Forum, Mr Harrison reflected on the eight months since Manchester Airports Group (MAG) took ownership of the airport. He said: "Under new ownership, the airport is already a very different place, full of ambition and drive, more confident and positive about its future prospects. This is great news for passengers, employees and businesses across the region and, as a result of these achievements, many of us will benefit from this new positive attitude and outlook."

"We have set out plans to return the airport to growth, add more destinations, more airlines and have already signed long-terms deals with Ryanair, easyJet and Thomas Cook. The challenge now is to attract long-haul and full-service scheduled operators to Stansted. Our commercial team is working tirelessly to promote the airport and its connections to London and the East of England as an opportunity not to be missed. No-one will disagree that the last few months have been non-stop. Yet in the midst of all this we can take pride in a year of achievement at the airport."

"I'm delighted to announce that 51% of our passengers now use trains, buses and coaches to get to and from Stansted. This means Stansted is not just the best major airport for public transport use by passengers, but it's now the number one of all UK airports, something we are extremely proud of."

"We are also delighted to see the recommendations from the recent London First report, A World Class Rail Link for Stansted. We all know that securing improvements to the West Anglia mainline isn't going to happen overnight, but if we are to secure investment on this line, we need to work together and speak with one voice. Going beyond that, we've heard today about the significant benefits that Crossrail 2 would have in accessibility and choice for passengers right across London, and provide a huge step up in connectivity to Stansted."

"We are hugely proud of our record, but today is all about building on that success and renewing our commitment to drive for more services and even higher standards of customer service. MAG is fully supportive of this and will continue to support the development of both public and private transport provision at the airport."


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 15 November 2013

THE massive economic value of Stansted Airport both regionally and nationally has been spelled out in a new report.

It found the current operation, serving 17 million passengers per annum (mppa), generates 750 million gross value added (GVA) and supports 14,000 jobs. The Oxford Economics report then looked at four scenarios for expansion at Stansted and considered the economic benefits, locally and nationally, of each. It found that the best use of the existing airport infrastructure, at 35 mppa, would generate 2.195 billion and support an additional 3,800 jobs. Maximum use of the existing airport infrastructure, at 45 mppa, would generate 2.660 billion and support an additional 8,310 jobs.

The report was undertaken on behalf of the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC), which represents business and local authorities in the London Stansted Cambridge corridor. Home to the world's most significant technology and life sciences companies, including Google, Microsoft, Astra Zeneca and GSK, it is already generating 12 per cent of the UK's Gross Value Added (GVA).

Chairman of the LSCC Greg Clark said: "As this report shows, the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor has the untapped potential as an engine for UK economic growth. Stansted Airport is crucial to this growth. Expansion of the airport, with an increase in long-haul routes, and improved road and rail connectivity to Cambridge-Peterborough and London, will ensure that the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor builds on its global reputation, driving forward the UK economy."

Mark Reeve, chairman of Greater Cambridgeshire-Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Panel (LEP), said: "The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership is home to one of the most dynamic knowledge economies in the world, but suffers from comparatively weak international links. Having Stansted delivering additional long-haul routes, trans-Atlantic and to the Far East, would support our businesses competing in the global market."

John Gourd, who heads Hertfordshire LEP, agreed: "The panel is pleased to support this work looking at the economic impact of scenarios of growth at Stansted, as we see the airport as an important economic asset for the county. Ideally located between Heathrow and Stansted we have an increasingly international outlook for our business to business knowledge economy."

Councillor Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council's deputy leader, added: "Stansted airport will continue to be a key economic driver for Essex and supports Essex County Council's ambitious growth agenda. With locations such as Harlow's Enterprise Zone, and its resulting positive impact on the rest of the M11 corridor, demonstrating we have the sites to support international businesses and a fierce commitment to deliver the skilled workforce those employers need, we have all the ingredients for the benefits prosperity and innovation bring to the county."

A Stansted Airport spokesman told the Observer: "We welcome the findings of the LSCC's report. As it points out, Stansted is already a key catalyst for growth and productivity in region and a high proportion of the country's potential demand for business air travel comes from the East of England catchment area. Further expansion at Stansted Airport would deliver significant economic benefits, in terms of job creation along the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor and in the North and East of London."

OUR COMMENT: History tells us that not so long ago Oxford economics was making similar forecasts about aviation in general, as yet unfulfilled!

Pat Dale


Ross Bentley - EADT Online - 9 November 2013

Campaigners working to contain the development of Stansted Airport have welcomed calls for an independent noise ombudsman to protect people living near airports and under flight paths from aircraft noise.

Members of the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group say they are supporting suggestions made by London First that a new independent noise ombudsman should have a range of powers including the ability to fine airlines that break noise limits. The non-profit organisation London First, that represents business interests in the capital, believes this would help address the lack of trust and transparency between those pressing for airport expansion and local communities.

But Stansted Airport says it is already successfully monitoring noise levels and has drastically reduced the number of complaints it receives over the past seven years.

SSE says it has been calling for an independent noise watchdog since 2006 and it has repeatedly pressed the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority to introduce independent oversight of aircraft noise and the other environmental impacts of airports on local communities.

The group says such a move would bring the UK in line with counterparts on the continent because the UK is the only EU member state which has left the task in the hands of the airport operators themselves.

Martin Peachey, SSE's noise adviser, said: "In the UK, airport operators are deemed the competent authority for monitoring and reporting upon the environmental impacts of their own operations. It is not therefore surprising that there is mistrust amongst local communities in relation to the transparency of the current arrangements for policing aircraft noise." He added: "An independent noise watchdog is long overdue."

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said the airport was successfully monitoring noise levels of air traffic around its mid-Essex site. He said: "Stansted has been at the forefront of pro-actively monitoring and working with our airlines, National Air Traffic Services, Civil Aviation Authority and Government to tackle noise issues, regularly going beyond the requirements and best practise. As a result we have reduced the number of noise complaints from 19,000 in 2005 to 750 in 2012 and have significantly reduced the number of people affected by noise from 7,600 in 1998 to 1,250 in 2012."

OUR COMMENT: Concerning the Stansted Airport spokesman's quotes:

1. The airport is required by Government to monitor noise levels
2. But this is only done at two sites very close to the runway (in Gt Hallingbury and Broxted) and only for departing aircraft - nothing is monitored on arrival.
3. Noise is not monitored anyway else in the locality other than by mobile monitoring at one or two locations a year for a three month period when requested by local councils.
4. In 2012 only 5 aircraft infringed the noise limits at the Gt Hallinbury/Broxted monitors. Yet there were 750 noise complaints.
5. Hardly an adequate measure of noise annoyance.

And in the first nine months of 2013, the total number of noise complaints is already at 750, the same as for the whole of 2012.

Martin Peachey, SSE's noise adviser


Phil Davies - Travel Weekly - 12 November 2013

Night flights are set to continue at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for at least another four years.

Aviation minister Robert Goodwill said it would "not be sensible" to change flights until a decision is reached on new runway capacity in the London area. The current night flights regime is now set to continue until October 2017. The government's proposals are open for consultation and a final decision will be made next spring.

Under the current regime at Heathrow, there are no scheduled take-offs or landings between 11.30pm and 4.30am. Between 4.40am and 6am, 16 flights are allowed to land, while between 6am and 7am, a total of 65 flights are allowed to use the airport.

Night flying is classified as taking place between 11.30pm and 6am at both Gatwick and Stansted.

The current night flight regime at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick ends in October 2014. But following the publication of its report, Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Stage 2 Consultation, the government has proposed to effectively roll-over the existing regime until 2017. There will also be no change to the noise quotas set for each of the three airports, the government proposed. But ministers agreed to extend the ban on the noisiest types of aircraft. Flights by such aircraft at Heathrow will now be banned between 11pm and 7am, extended from the current banned period of 11.30pm until 7am.

The Department for Transport said that "most responses from the public argued for a ban on night flights", but added that at Heathrow between now and 2017 "we fully expect the trend in quieter aircraft to continue".

John Stewart, chairman of campaign group Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise told the BBC: "There will be huge disappointment that their sleep will continue to disturbed. We will fight for an end to night flights in 2017."


Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 7 November 2013

A LEADING business group has called for a 'noise pollution tsar' to be appointed to protect people living under flightpaths.

London First said that an independent ombudsman, with a range of powers including the ability to fine an airline that persistently broke noise pollution limits, would address a "basic lack of trust and transparency" between those pressing the economic case for airport expansion and local communities. A similar scheme running in Paris since 2000 has issued in fines totalling more than more than 10m euros to airlines and has the power to ground the aircraft of airlines that do not pay penalties.

The plan, set out in London First's More Flights, Less Noise report, comes as airports commission chairman, Sir Howard Davies, prepares to announce a shortlist of potential sites for a new runway in the South East.

In October, Sir Howard said that he believed there was no option but to build extra runways in the region to cope with rising demand. The London First report shows how noise levels under flightpaths are expected to fall as airlines invest in a new generation of quieter planes, but local communities and the public at large are unsure whether they will share the benefits.

Chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said it was vital for the UK that airport capacity was increased, but she added that unless a basic lack of trust and transparency around noise levels was addressed head-on, it might never happen.

"Limiting and cutting noise are challenges for any airport but the fact is that planes are getting quieter, major airlines like British Airways and Virgin are investing heavily in new fleets and airports are actively improving landing and take-off methods to reduce the noise impact," she said.

"However, we are miles behind foreign rivals when it comes to communicating how we monitor noise levels and deal with any problems. An independent ombudsman would make sure that all airlines fulfil their obligations. It would give local communities the assurance that someone is looking out for them and policy makers a source of objective information on which to make their decisions."

Under the plans, the watchdog would monitor noise pollution, which would be set at appropriate levels for each individual airport by the government. It would have a range of powers, from light touch verification of plans already in place, to full scale intervention.

The ombudsman would:
* Monitor all aircraft noise emissions;
* Levy penalties where breaches of regulations occur;
* Report on noise in a manner that is transparent and intelligible to local communities.

However, Baroness Valentine warned that fines should be a last resort. "Ideally, violations should be dealt with through investigation of their root causes and working with airports and airlines to prevent their reoccurrence, rather than automatically applying a penalty," she said.

"A risk of the 'parking ticket' approach is that penalties come to be seen simply as a cost of doing business when their objective should be to deter."

The report also highlights a number of operational changes that could be made to reduce noise. These include 'noise preferential routes' to help aircraft avoid populated areas. These already exist for aircraft at Stansted Airport, along with a fines penalty system, and pilots are also requested to follow local operating procedures and "avoid flying over the centre of Bishop's Stortford, unless for safety reasons". They should also avoid flying over Sawbridgeworth and Stansted Mountfitchet at heights below 2,500ft above sea level. Aircraft must also avoid flying over St Elizabeth's Centre, Perry Green, at a height lower than 4,000ft.

OUR COMMENT: No mention of any much needed changes to the actual way in which noise exposure is assessed, the dumbing down effects of averaging noise exposure as opposed to the intensity and number of real-time exposures.

Pat Dale


Matt McGrath, Environment Correspondent - BBC News - 6 November 2013

The WMO says that fossil fuel related activities such as oil refining are driving atmospheric levels of CO2 to record highs. The levels of gases in the atmosphere that drive global warming increased to a record high in 2012.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), atmospheric CO2 grew more rapidly last year than its average rise over the past decade. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also broke previous records. Thanks to carbon dioxide and these other gases, the WMO says the warming effect on our climate has increased by almost a third since 1990.

The WMO's annual greenhouse gas bulletin measures concentrations in the atmosphere, not emissions on the ground.

Carbon dioxide is the most important of the gases that they track, but only about half of the CO2 that's emitted by human activities remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed by the plants, trees, the land and the oceans. Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, global average levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by 141%.

According to the WMO there were 393.1 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2012, an increase of 2.2ppm over 2011. This was above the yearly average of 2.02ppm over the past decade. "The observations highlight yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

While the daily measurement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded the symbolic 400ppm mark in May this year, according to the WMO the global annual average CO2 concentration will cross this point in 2015 or 2016. Levels of methane also reached record highs in 2012 of 1,819 parts per billion. Concentrations have been increasing since 2007 after a period when they appeared to be levelling off.

The WMO report says that it is not yet possible to attribute the methane increase to either human activities like cattle breeding and landfills or natural sources such as wetlands. They believe that the rising emissions come from the tropical and mid-latitude northern hemisphere and not from the Arctic, where methane from the melting of permafrost and hydrates has long been a concern.

Emissions of nitrous oxide have also grown, with the atmospheric concentration in 2012 at 325.1 parts per billion, 120% above pre-industrial levels.


Press Release by Aviation Environment Federation, Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, RSPB, Stop Climate Chaos, The Woodland Trust, WWF-UK - 2 November 2013

Green groups have written to Airports Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies challenging his view that new runway capacity is compatible with the Government's climate change goals. The letter is a response to a recent speech by Davies which he used to rule out a "no new runway solution".

The eight national environmental NGOs argue that the Airports Commission's intention to look at additional runway capacity in the South East cannot be reconciled with the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommendations on how the UK should achieve its national climate goal. The UK organisations to sign the letter are Aviation Environment Federation, the Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, RSPB, Stop Climate Chaos, the Woodland Trust and WWF-UK.

The organisations argue in the letter that the Commission should explicitly recommend keeping aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels by 2050, in line with the CCC guidance. They argue that even this level of emissions gives aviation a very generous target, when compared to the very deep cuts required of other sectors of our economy. For the UK to achieve overall cuts of 80% in CO2 emissions in 2050, compared to their 1990 levels, which means cuts of some 85% for other sectors of the economy.

The CCC's analysis concluded that stabilising UK aviation's emissions at their 2005 level could translate to a maximum 60% growth in the number of passengers at UK airports. The NGOs set out four key arguments why no new runway capacity is needed even if passenger numbers are permitted to grow by up to 60%:

1. Such growth is achievable within existing runway capacity.
2. Any new infrastructure will require capping of capacity at other airports. This will impact airports both in the South East and the rest of the UK.
3. Future climate targets will need to take account of aviation's non-CO2 contribution to climate change. As suggested by the CCC.
4. Carbon trading in the EU or globally cannot be relied on to bring aviation's emissions down.

The group of environmental organisations are urging the Commission to retain a "no new runways" option in its deliberations as the best way of achieving the targets set in the UK Climate Change Act. Doug Parr, Policy Director at Greenpeace UK said: "Building new runways when there can be no confidence that aviation will meet its fair share of climate change emissions constraints is an economic and environmental gamble. The expansionist agenda of the aviation industry needs to be contained until we properly understand what the climate consequences would be."

Jean Leston, Transport Policy Manager, WWF-UK said: "Although we are pleased that Sir Howard has taken on board the importance of climate change, his emerging views - which favour expansion - aren't backed by any clear evidence. We'd like to see Sir Howard come clean on his assumptions so that we have more confidence in his final conclusions."

Sue Armstrong-Brown, RSPB head of policy, said: "Climate change is the biggest long term threat to wildlife and we must do all we can to keep a lid on damaging carbon emissions. But building airports will have a massive immediate impact on our natural environment if precious green spaces which are home to threatened wildlife are destroyed to make way for roads, runways and terminals."

"For these reasons we are calling on the Government to think longer term about what our country needs. We need to look more seriously at sustainable transport alternatives and smarter use of the aviation capacity we already have. We can have good transport links and a healthy countryside in the future if we make the right decisions today."

Hilary Allison, Policy Director of the WoodlandTrust said: "The environmental impact of airport expansion is of key concern to the Trust, especially as we know that loss and damage to ancient woods is highly likely to follow. Increased emissions from aviation also threaten to build on the long-term impacts of climate change which adds further pressure to the rare wildlife and vulnerable ecosystems found within irreplaceable woodland habitats which cannot easily adapt, as well as intensify the risks to the UK's woods and trees of pests and diseases. With just 2% ancient woodland remaining in the UK, this must be avoided."

Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation said: "The only thing we can predict with certainty is that a new runway will lead to an increase in emissions: but there is no guarantee that we will have the right technological innovation, policy measures and regulations to ensure this doesn't threaten our climate targets. With sufficient capacity already available to meet growth, this is not a gamble we need to take now."


Tory MP pushes case for expansion of London's biggest airports,
saying UK needs capability and it is vital to support growth

Gwyn Topham, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 22 October 2013

The new aviation minister has pushed the case for expanding London's biggest airports, telling the industry that the country needs to grow its hub capacity. Speaking at the Airport Operators Association conference on Monday, Robert Goodwill said it was "vital that we support growth in this sector". Listing the recent investment in airports including Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted, he said: "All these good news stories do not, however, provide the hub capacity we need to grow."

Hub capacity is generally understood by the industry to refer to airports sufficiently large to provide enough connecting passengers to sustain a wide range of long-haul flights - an argument made by Heathrow and the London mayor Boris Johnson, who favours an alternative airport to the east of the capital.

Goodwill said that the government's main message was that "aviation needs to grow, to support economic expansion, whilst giving due respect to the wider environment and the quality of life of those on the ground". Goodwill later added that the coalition was waiting for the report from the Davies commission, which is investigating how to maintain the UK's position as a world aviation hub, saying it would be "foolish to pre-empt its conclusions".

Sir Howard Davies, chair of the Airports Commission, will speak on Tuesday at the conference after recently indicating that he now accepts there is a need to build new runways in the southeast. A shortlist of possible options for expansion will be published in an interim report in December, but Davies broke his silence earlier this month to say his "emerging thinking" was that Britain would be best served economically, and environmentally, with additional net capacity.

On Monday Ed Anderson, chairman of the AOA, said that the debate had shifted. He said: "There is now a debate about where expansion should take place, not why it should take place at all." He added that while the industry was pleased with the positive recognition of its economic benefits from Davies and government, the fear was that politicians would not act on the commission's recommendations, which will be published after the 2015 general election.

In a Comres survey for the AOA of 500 senior financial decision makers in the UK, just 37% had confidence that the eventual proposals would be delivered. However, opponents of airport expansion pointed to the findings in the same survey that only 8% of businessmen were dissatisfied with the UK's international air links to either traditional destinations or emerging markets.

Meanwhile, London First has called on the government to act now to improve rail connections to Stansted airport, which is currently transforming its terminal with an 80m redevelopment. The business organisation put forward plans for a 620m package of improvements to cut train journey times to under 40 minutes from central London. It said the plan would bring 2m people within an hour's journey of the airport by rail and coach, similar to the catchment of Heathrow.

Lady Valentine, chief executive of London First, said: "We are at least a decade away from new runways serving London. We have no choice but to make more use of the assets we have to grow Britain's air links to global markets. Stansted has spare runway capacity. A rail link on a par with those to Heathrow, Gatwick and other airports, would spur competition."


Halstead Gazette - 27 October 2013

Residents in the Halstead area are unlikely to support the expansion of Stansted Airport, a councillor has stated. Braintree Council debated the future of the region's air capacity during a meeting held last Monday.

Councillors backed an Essex County Council (ECC) report which argued it was "unrealistic" to create a four-runway super hub at the site. Iona Parker, councillor for Yeldham, said: "Residents in the north of the district unfortunately live under the flight path for both Stansted and Luton. I really believe in the north in particular there will be a really strong opposition to a second runway at Stansted. The huge increase in flights this would bring would have a devastating impact on the tranquility of the rural north."


Michael Jarvis - Herts & Essex Observer - 24 October 2013

BISHOP'S Stortford MP Mark Prisk has condemned London First's plans to build new tracks at Stortford and Sawbridgeworth as "bonkers".

The business organisation published a report, A World Class Rail Link for Stansted, on Monday which suggested passing loops be built at Stortford and Sawbridgeworth in order to help achieve a plan to "cut the journey time of the Stansted Express by almost a fifth to under 40 minutes".

But Mr Prisk said: "The idea is completely unacceptable, my commuters come first and, though I do want to see improvements [to the rail tracks], I do not want to see them for tourists at the expense of commuters."

He continued that he and fellow Tory Sir Alan Haselhurst, Uttlesford?s MP, were lobbying the government for improvements to the Greater Anglia line, which serves Cambridge to London Liverpool Street, but closer to the capital. "There needs to be greater economical and physical presence in improvements between Liverpool Street and Broxbourne - that is where most problems occur," he said.

Mr Prisk's views brought him into conflict with Stansted bosses, who welcomed the report. The document says the 620m package of improvements would bring the number of passengers within an hour's journey of the airport by rail and coach to two million - the same level as Heathrow today - and bring estimated economic benefits of more than 1.2 billion.

Chris Wiggan, Stansted Airport's head of public affairs and sustainability, said: "The line has suffered from years of chronic under investment and we have long campaigned for a reduction in journey times, improved resilience and additional track capacity. Implementing the findings will put Stansted on an equal competitive footing with other London airports."


UTTLESFORD'S MP has spoken out on Stansted Airport's
future and made it clear expansion is not an option

Sinead Holland - Herts & Essex Observer - 31 October 2013

Veteran Conservative Sir Alan Haselhurst addressed the House of Commons in a debate on aviation strategy and looked north for a solution to the country's capacity issues, advocating more traffic on Manchester Airport's two existing runways. Manchester Airports Group bought Stansted Airport from BAA earlier this year in a 1.5 billion deal.

Although Walden's man at Westminster has long been a fan of a completely new airport in the Thames Estuary as the ideal option, he said: "I believe that there needs to be a hub in London and I accept that it is perhaps inevitable that will be Heathrow, but to build a third runway, possibly a fourth runway and a sixth and seventh terminal for that airport will not make it anything like the new airport in Hong Kong, or Changi in Singapore, or the airport in Beijing. It will still be a confusing mass airport. I do not think that serves London best, but it might be the best that can be achieved in the circumstances."

Stansted has been mooted as a substitute, ripe for expansion to four runways, but Sir Alan told fellow MPs: "I must declare an interest because Stansted Airport is in my constituency. However, the views that I hold on airports policy were formed when I had the honour to be the Member for Middleton and Prestwich in Greater Manchester. I took the view then, in the wake of the study by the Roskill commission, the last great body to study airports policy, that none of the inland sites, whether Cublington, Nuthampstead, Stansted, Willingale or any other, should be developed, and that if we were to have a proper airport system for London, it should be offshore."

"My view was that it would be a mistake to urbanise a large part of the countryside in any of the home counties. I never dreamed that, due to the sad early death of Sir Peter Kirk, a vacancy would occur in the Saffron Walden constituency, which I was chosen to fill. I am therefore not simply saying 'Not in my back yard' - I have tried to have a wider perspective on the matter."

"I was close to Manchester for a time, and I saw the potential for the development of Manchester airport. It has two runways, so why can that potential not be seen? Why not promote that as at least one other gateway into the country? Most air traffic has to do with leisure, and from Manchester not only can the business community be served in that part of the country - going both west to Liverpool and east to Leeds - but there is access to north Wales, the Derbyshire peak district, the Yorkshire dales, Yorkshire moors, the lake district and so on. We ought to encourage those who visit this country to see parts of it other than just London and the home counties. That would take some of the pressure off London, without, of course, excusing the need for a proper hub."

He told the house that the area around Stansted had already missed out on the improved infrastructure which should have accompanied London's third airport: "I tell my constituents who occasionally ask, 'Should we be spending all this money on HS2?' that when I hear that HS2 would bring Birmingham airport within 36 minutes of London, my eyes water because it is an average of 47 minutes from Stansted airport into London."

"Over the years, our one consistent failing - there have been many - is that we have not been prepared to back airport development with suitable infrastructure for people to get there. So what happens? Well, I can speak for Stansted with some passion. On the back of an airport that we were unhappy to see develop, we did not get the compensation of a good railway system. In fact, we got one that is worse because priority was given on a two-track railway to the Stansted Express."

"I am all in favour of a good service to Stansted Airport, but that must not be at the expense of all the commuters whom Government policies over the years have encouraged to live in the M11 corridor. They get the worst of both worlds and that is wrong."

He said last Thursday (October 24) if the current Davies Commission - the independent body currently conducting a review of airport capacity - came up with a solution, there should be adequate compensation for those residents affected by a major national building project.

Sir Alan concluded: "The whole country deserves a better deal, and to level up the north. The whole country needs to get some benefit from the people whom we encourage to travel to our country for business or pleasure. We need imagination - that is what I appeal for - and a solution that is worthy of our main city and our country as a whole."


Jane Wild - Financial Times - 15 October 2013

Manchester Airports Group is focused on expanding Stansted in the next decade to two runways, which would support a range of business and leisure, low-cost and premium, long- and short-haul flights.

Charlie Cornish, MAG chief executive, said in an interview with the Financial Times that he wants to develop the Essex airport along the lines of Manchester, the only UK airport other than Heathrow with two runways.

"You have to be realistic, Stansted is never going to replace Heathrow as the centre point for long-haul flights, but it's got a great opportunity to evolve more like Manchester," he said.

Stansted's proposals to the Davies commission to assess the best way to increase Britain's flight capacity include options to build a second runway or to expand to a four-runway hub airport. However, four runways could only work if Heathrow were to close, which appears unlikely, Mr Cornish said, so he was fixing his sights on a two-runway future.

MAG, which bought Stansted in February, has begun an 80m terminal redesign in order to smooth its security checks and to improve the airside shops as part of a plan to attract airlines to fly long-haul routes.

Mr Cornish revealed Stansted had recently secured the return of long-haul flying after some years, beginning its shift from being purely a base for cheap flights to Europe. Pakistani carrier Air Blue will begin a route to Lahore next year, and detailed talks are under way with several airlines, with one close to adding another destination next year, he said. Stansted's main airline, Ryanair, is not one of those, despite its chief executive Michael O'Leary long having mooted low-cost long-haul under another brand.

"Stansted's got a good opportunity to fly long-haul to the Middle East and then beyond," Mr Cornish said, citing data that showed 3m people travelled past Stansted each year to fly to the Gulf region from Gatwick or Heathrow.

China was also a possible location from Stansted, he said, while MAG's long-held aim to fly between China and Manchester would happen within two years. The group has a team in China as part of its Airport City project in Manchester. The 800m project to form a business district at Manchester airport involves the Beijing Construction Engineering Group, which it is hoped will encourage further Chinese investment.

At Stansted the goal is to reverse the decline of the past few years by increasing passenger numbers from 18.5m to 24m during five years. Stansted has agreed deals with Ryanair and easyJet to bring in more travellers in exchange for lower airport charges.

However, expansion will require improved connections. HS2 - the second phase of which would run to Manchester airport - is "fundamental" to lift capacity on Britain's rail network, Mr Cornish said. An obstacle to Stansted's development is the rail link to London, which takes between 47 minutes to an hour. The airport wants to cut to that to 30 minutes.

While the commission, chaired by the economist Sir Howard Davies, needs time to work over the shortlist of options for how to boost flight capacity, "it would be difficult for Stansted not to be on it", said Mr Cornish. London's population will increase to the east during the next decades, and noise from Stansted would affect fewer people than Heathrow and Gatwick, he said.

But the debate is not about whether the southeast needs a hub airport such as an expanded Heathrow, or the London mayor's estuary hub idea - which Mr Cornish thinks will not make the shortlist because of its expense. Rather, it is about boosting connectivity, he said, and regional airports have a vital role to play in increasing UK airport capacity. For now, MAG is focusing on Stansted, but in six months, after its integration, it will be open to other opportunities, including those abroad, to "add more shareholder value", Mr Cornish said.

MAG is majority owned by Manchester City Council and nine other Manchester authorities. Australian infrastructure investor Industry Funds Management holds a 35.5 per cent equity stake and 50 per cent of voting rights. The group, which also owns East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, considered operating Chicago Midway airport this year. However, it ruled out any interest in Glasgow Prestwick airport, for which the Scottish government may seek an operating partner.

OUR COMMENT: MAG's wish list for Stansted seems to include all possible options, and so far community and environmental considerations do not seem to have been a factor in their planning.

Pat Dale


CAA Online - 17 October 2013

The UK Civil Aviation Authority is today launching a consultation on the impact of long-term agreements made by Stansted Airport and its principal customers on the airport's market power.

Under the Civil Aviation Act 2012 a market power test is required as part of the process to decide whether an airport should be regulated in the future and, if so, how. The consultation sets out the CAA's provisional view that the deals Stansted has agreed with its two principal customers change the assessment of the airport's market power, and mean that deregulation could be appropriate. However, this provisional view is subject to consultation, and may change depending on stakeholders' responses.

Iain Osborne, CAA Group Director of Regulatory Policy, said: "Our aim is to protect passengers, so we will act if the market fails. But regulation must achieve more benefits for consumers than it costs. That is why, following the airport's recent deals with easyJet and Ryanair, it is sensible for us to consider whether regulation remains the best thing for Stansted?s passengers."

The CAA originally published a consultation on its 'minded to' assessment for Stansted's market power in January 2013. The CAA acknowledged in its consultation that the change of ownership of Stansted and its impact on the airports relationship with its customers could alter its view when it consulted. Following Stansted's subsequent acquisition by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and MAG's agreements with Ryanair and easyJet, today's consultation invites stakeholders to comment on the CAA's assessment of how these agreements may affect the market power assessment.

The consultation focuses solely on the impact of the key developments on the 'Minded to' assessment we consulted on in January, and their implications on the licensing of Stansted after April 2014. It does not update the CAA's thinking on all matters raised in the assessment, nor does it afford stakeholders the opportunity to comment on submissions made by other stakeholders in response to that consultation.

After the consultation, the final determination on Stansted's market power will be published early in 2014. The form of regulation for Stansted will be finalised after that.


More runways at Heathrow 'politically toxic' says Mayor

Pippa Crerar, City Hall Editor - Evening Standard - 4 November 2013

Boris Johnson today called on the Government's aviation supremo to reject Heathrow's "undeliverable" bid to build a third runway when he reports on the future of UK airports. The Mayor said more runways at Heathrow would be "politically toxic", ahead of the publication next month by Airports Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies of his shortlist of airports suitable for expansion.

In a speech to the annual Confederation of British Industry conference, Mr Johnson said the annual cap of 480,000 flights at Heathrow must not be lifted because of noise blight. Instead, he set out a masterplan for London that would combine a hub airport in the Thames Estuary while creating a London borough on the site of Heathrow. In his most candid assessment of airport expansion, the Mayor said: "When Howard Davies publishes his interim report, he must put an end to this unforgivable, baffling and ludicrous uncertainty and explicitly rule out any expansion at Heathrow."

"If Heathrow expansion is politically and environmentally impossible, which it is, we need to stop dithering, decide now on a hub airport solution to the east, and get on with it. I hope a man as wise as Howard Davies gets that, and rules out Heathrow now before it is too late."

He said a new airport east of London would create 375,000 jobs and provide Britain with unconstrained links to global markets. He also argued that claims of damage to the Thames Valley economy by the closure of Heathrow were wildly exaggerated because the site offered extraordinary potential for development. He said it could provide homes for 180,000 people and 40,000 jobs in an area roughly the size of Kensington and Chelsea.

A recent European Union study forecast that flight demand in Europe will outstrip capacity by 12 per cent by 2030 and Mr Johnson said Heathrow was now level pegging with places such as Helsinki airport regarding the number of Chinese destinations served. He added that Heathrow was asking the Government to "deliver the undeliverable" and said: "The airport is already responsible for vastly more noise pollution than any other airport in Europe and to worsen that solution by adding a third, and inevitably a fourth runway, would be indefensible."


Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion is to threaten
Stansted's expansion through the High Court

Karl West - Sunday Times - 13 October 2013

CAMPAIGNERS will deliver a blow to Sir Howard Davies's Airports Commission this week by applying to the High Court for a judicial review of its work.

Davies and his team are drawing up a shortlist of options for a new runway in southeast England. Their initial report will be handed to government by the end of the year and final recommendations will be made just after the expected election in 2015. However, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will tomorrow begin proceedings at the High Court to force Davies to restart the process. The legal action puts the commission's deadlines at risk.

SSE has already succeeded in removing Geoff Muirhead, former boss of Manchester Airports Group, from the commission. He spent 22 years at the airports company, which bought Stansted in January. The campaign group now argues that his presence on the panel has compromised its work to date. Muirhead, it claims, was a key influence in establishing the commission's "sift criteria", used to choose a shortlist of sites.

Brian Ross, SSE's economics adviser, said: "For almost a year, Muirhead was allowed to play a pivotal role as the only commissioner with first-hand knowledge and experience of the aviation industry. He was therefore in a powerful position to shape the decisions and judgments of the commission to favour the interests of Manchester Airports."

In submissions to the commission in July, Manchester Airports proposed adding a second runway at Stansted to raise capacity to 90m passengers annually. It also proposed a four-runway airport.

The commission has denied any bias.


Sir Howard Davies' first speech for commission calls for expansion in
south-east England and a mechanism to manage carbon emissions

Gwyn Topham - The Guardian - 7 October 2013

Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of the Airports Commission, has affirmed that Britain will need to build new runways in the coming years.

Making his first public speech since the creation last year of the commission to consider airport capacity in south-east England, Davies also called for a mechanism to manage carbon emissions.

Davies said: "Our provisional conclusion is that we will need some net additional runway capacity in the south-east of England in the coming decades. To rely only on runways currently in operation would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy, and would also almost certainly not be the best solution in terms of minimising the overall carbon impact of flights and travel to and from airports. A mechanism for managing the carbon impacts of aviation will be needed if the UK is to achieve its statutory carbon targets."

Heathrow has led calls for airport expansion, despite its planned third runway being scrapped by the coalition as recently as 2010 - a decision many in the Conservative party now believe was wrong. The London mayor, Boris Johnson, says Britain needs greater hub-airport capacity but opposes Heathrow expansion, instead arguing for a new airport to the east of the capital.

The commission is due to issue an interim report by the end of the year, drawing up a shortlist of potential long-term airport runway schemes. Heathrow has outlined plans for a potential four-runway hub, while Gatwick wants to build a second runway. Stansted owner MAG has also submitted plans showing how the Essex airport could be turned into a four-runway hub if required.

The interim report will also include proposals for measures to improve aviation capacity in the short term. Its final report is due to be submitted after the 2015 general election.


Sir Howard Davies says expanding Manchester and Birmingham not option -
Boosts chances of new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or an Estuary Airport

Ray Massey - Daily Mail - 7 October 2013

New runways will have to be built in the South East of England if the UK is to avoid aviation gridlock, Britain's airports 'tsar' said today. That is the provisional conclusion of Sir Howard Davies' investigation into solving the problem of UK's bursting airport capacity. His findings boost the chances of controversial new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and keep afloat the idea of a Boris Island in the Thames Estuary.

Big issue: More runways will have to be built in the south-east of England, including potentially at Heathrow, Britain's airport tsar said today. But simply expanding regional airports such as Birmingham and Manchester would not solve the problem, he said in a blow to regional expansion. However Sir Howard held back for now on ruling on his 'preferred option' for South East airport expansion.

Fighting to win his support are plans for a third and even a fourth runway at Heathrow, a brand new 'Boris island' in the Thames estuary - the two competing and opposing 'hub' airport options - and extra runways at Gatwick and Stansted.

Sir Howard, who chairs the Government's Airports Commission which will recommend to ministers where new runways should be built was giving his 'emerging thinking' in a speech after taking evidence from interested parties over the Summer. Speaking in London he said: "Our provisional conclusion is that we will need some net additional runway capacity in the South East of England in the coming decades."

And he stressed that to rely 'only on runways currently in operation' would mean a poorer service for passengers, for connections to other airports at home and abroad, could damage the economy. He added that in environmental terms it "would also almost certainly not be the best solution in terms of minimising the overall carbon impact of flights and travel to and from airports".

Sir Howard said pressure on the UK's busiest airports is likely to continue to grow "even if we take a more conservative view of future aviation demand than the DfT has in the past." This will lead to overcrowding at airports in the south east of England specifically. More importantly, this aviation gridlock will happen even if demand for flights is less than expected because of pressures from the Government's legally enforced 'green' climate change objectives.

New favourite idea: Boris has backed the four-runway 'Foster Island' in the Thames Estuary airport, which would be capable of handling up to 180million passengers a year on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

Elaborate plan: The Isle of Grain's proposed international railway station, which would include a service to Waterloo in 26 minutes

Sir Howard said it was difficult to see how the market alone could resolve the 'imbalance' between demand and capacity in the South East of England. And simply sending for flights to the regions would not be enough: "Regional airports are already serving their local markets effectively but it is difficult to see how they can absorb all the excess demand. The tools available to Government to influence the location of flights are also very limited."

So taken together the taken together he concluded that such considerations "point to the need for new runway infrastructure in the south east of England in the coming decades".

Sir Howard said in his speech: "Our provisional conclusion is that we will need some net additional runway capacity in the South East of England in the coming decades. To rely only on runways currently in operation would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy and would also almost certainly not be the best solution in terms of minimising the overall carbon impact of flights and travel to and from airports."

He added: "A mechanism for managing the carbon impacts of aviation will be needed if the UK is to achieve its statutory carbon targets - just as it will in other countries. This is the case whether new runway capacity is provided in the South East or not." He added: "I would be interested in comments on the analysis I have set out today."

The Commission is seeking responses on the emerging thinking and analysis set out in the speech by October 31.

The Airports Commission was launched in November last year but its final recommendations will not be implemented - if at all - until after the next General Election.


HEATHROW: Heathrow airport chiefs have published three options for a controversial new third runway to double passenger numbers and 'win the race' to be Europe's main international airline hub. But they also spelled out the prospect of fourth runway built after 2040. Residents reacted with fury to the blueprint that would mean a sixth terminal T6 at Heathrow, and a seventh likely to follow, threatening action in the High Court to halt it. Each of the three third-runway Heathrow options will boost annual flights from 480,000 to 740,000 a year - more in keeping with its international rivals - doubling passenger numbers from 70million to 130million a year.

'FOSTER ISLAND': The inner estuary site on Kent's Isle of Grain is close enough to London to provide smooth and fast access by public transport, yet ideally located so as to allow take-off and landing over water and so impact on as small a population as possible.

'BORIS ISLAND': An airport on an artificial island off the Kent coast would remove all problems of noise pollution and give the airport the freedom to operate in whatever way it needed in order to maximise the UK's connectivity and economic benefits.

STANSTED EXPANSION: Developing a major four-runway airport at Stansted would have the attraction of building on existing infrastructure and being sited in a relatively sparsely populated region.

GATWICK EXPANSION: Rival Gatwick has unveiled its own controversial plans for a 9billion second runway at Gatwick that could treble passenger numbers to nearly 90million a year. But it too has flown into turbulence from residents and environmental groups. Gatwick bosses said a new runway in West Sussex, positioned to the south of the current site, could be open in 2025 and could almost treble passenger numbers but be less expensive and less noisy than an extra runway at Heathrow. It would be part of a 'constellation' of three main airports around London - instead of one major Heathrow 'hub'.


Seeking support: firms in the capital are being called upon to
contribute financially to a major campaign for airport expansion

Matthew Beard, Transport Editor - Evening Standard - 10 October 2013

London businesses are to fund a major campaign for airport expansion after the Government's aviation supremo Sir Howard Davies backed new runways in the South-East.

Business group London First will put pressure on the main political parties to heed the recommendations of the Davies commission when its report is published after the 2015 election.

The 'Let Britain Fly' campaign will cost 250,000 and London First is seeking 25,000 each from businesses, trade unions and London boroughs. The cash will be used to fund academic studies and advertising. The lobby group insists it will not campaign in favour of one particular airport. It believes extra flights can be put on at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick in the next five years regardless of the outcome of a decision on runways.

London First's Rob McIvor said: "We are bringing together various businesses and other organisations that want politicians to commit to being guided by the Airports Commission's recommendations and acting swiftly once they have been made. We cannot afford to see this kicked into the long grass yet again."

He said that, in the short term, the group would be calling for more flights at the major London airports, improved transport links and the lifting of price caps. He added: "Long term, we believe we will need to build new runways in the South-East but we are open minded about where they will be. The important thing is for all the main parties to commit to tackling the capacity crunch after the 2015 election."

The City of London Corporation is set to contribute to the campaign, with Canary Wharf Group, Sir Robert McAlpine, the Berkeley Group, John Lewis and Segro also committed.

Earlier this week, airports chief Sir Howard ruled there was no alternative to building extra runways in the South East to cope with rising passenger demand. In December, he will announce a shortlist of potential runway sites from 58 submissions. His commission will then whittle this down to make a recommendation in 2015, which could involve new runways at more than one airport.

Airport Expansion, what about the Health Effects?


For those keen to see expansion, the report
is more than an unwelcome irritation

Simon Calder - The Independent - 8 October 2013

Passengers aboard the first wave of flights descending over west London into Heathrow this morning may have health concerns - but only about their own well-being. They could fret about the short-term impact of a 14-hour flight from Singapore or Hong Kong to Britain, and the longer-term effects of disrupting circadian rhythms by crossing time zones faster than the speed of sunlight. They are, though, unlikely to think about the millions of people over whose homes and lives their Airbus or Boeing is rumbling.

Today's findings in the British Medical Journal add another important dimension to the question of our age: how damaging is air travel? As every long-haul airline passenger knows, sleep deprivation is an unwelcome irritation.

Now researchers say they have identified something much more serious: a "significant association between exposure to aircraft noise and cardiovascular health". The risks appear to rise sharply for people living very close to a busy airport.

For those keen to see expansion, particularly at Heathrow, the report will prove more than an unwelcome irritation; if the findings are sustained and augmented, the airport expansion debate takes on a new character. Sir Howard Davies is the chairman of the body charged with solving the aviation capacity crunch in south-east England.

Two days ago, he revealed the Airport Commission's work thus far. Sir Howard gave a meticulous exposition of the factors concerning his commission, from maintaining Britain's global competitiveness to meeting the UK's carbon emissions targets. He paid due regard to the concerns of local residents about noise and traffic.

But 48 hours ago a correlation between airport proximity and the risk of heart attacks or strokes was not in the public domain. Now that it is, the spectrum of harm from airports has extended from nuisance to a serious public health threat.


British Medical Journal - www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5432 - 8 October 2013

Conclusions of Study

How best to meet commercial aircraft capacity for London and other major cities is a matter of active debate, as this may provide major economic benefits. However, policy decisions need to take account of potential health related concerns, including possible effects of environmental noise on cardiovascular health.

Our results suggest that high levels of aircraft noise are associated with an increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease. As well as the possibility of causal associations, alternative explanations should be considered. These include the potential for incompletely controlled confounding and ecological bias, as we did not have access to individual level confounder data such as ethnicity and smoking.

Further work to understand better the possible health effects of aircraft noise is needed, including studies clarifying the relative importance of night time compared with daytime noise, as this may affect policy response.


ENDS Europe DAILY - 2 October 2013

The head of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has proposed that Europe's emissions trading system should only apply within its own airspace and exempt developing countries.

Mutual agreement would be needed before expanding market-based measures beyond this scope, according to the latest draft ICAO text circulated on Wednesday.

Although a major concession, the airspace rule was hard-won by EU officials and could be as good a deal as Europe can hope for as the talks enter their final two days, according to observers at the Montreal talks.

That means it is now unlikely the EU ETS will ever be reinstated to its status before the 'stop the clock'

The new draft text retains the de minimus derogation, "urging" states operating their own market-based measures - such as the EU - to exempt routes to and from the majority of developing countries.

Critics say the exemption sets a precedent that could undermine the possibility for a truly global deal. But developing states say exemptions are needed to respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibility - an issue that has also plagued talks on tackling shipping emissions

This week's talks in Montreal on tackling aviation emissions have mostly focussed on global opposition to the inclusion of international flights in the EU ETS, which has been suspended for non-EU flights since March under 'stop the clock'.

As a result, work towards a global market-based measure for tackling aviation emissions has taken a back seat, observers say. The latest draft text retains the proposal to make a decision on global measures by 2016 and calls for net carbon emissions from international aviation to remain at the same level from 2020 onwards.

The draft acknowledges that the global market-based measure will have to take account of common but differentiated responsibility. There has been little discussion yet on the details of how this can be done in the three-year timeframe, so this is likely to be one of the major sticking points when work on drafting the deal begins in earnest, said Bill Hemmings of NGO T&E.

The draft notes the aviation industry's support for a global offsetting scheme and "recognises" that "voluntary carbon offsetting schemes constitute a practical way to offset CO2 emissions", at least in the short term.


ENDS Europe DAILY - 2 October 2013

Most of Britain continues to be in breach of the 2008 Ambient Air Quality Directive because of high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), according to information submitted to the European Commission.

The latest annual compliance assessment published by environment department DEFRA shows that 38 of the UK's 43 air quality zones exceeded the EU's annual average NO2 limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

Simon Birkett, director of campaign group Clean Air in London said the EU executive should launch infraction proceedings against the UK "urgently".

A spokeswoman for the commission's environment directorate said it was "worried" by the continuing non-compliance but added it was "difficult to say anything on a possible infringement process at this stage".

A Supreme Court case over UK air quality failures brought by NGO ClientEarth was referred to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in May. ClientEarth, supported by the Supreme Court, had requested the CJEU expedite the case but this request was refused on 1 October. The EU court case is expected to begin in mid-2015. ENDS understands that the commission is likely to want to hear the outcome of this case before launching legal action of its own.

The commission granted nine UK zones extra time to comply with the 40μg/m3 limit. This is conditional on staying below 60μg/m3, which is no longer the case in five of the nine zones. This could invalidate the time extension in these areas.

The compliance assessment also shows there were breaches of the 200m;g/m3 hourly average limit for NO2 during 2012 in Greater London and the city of Oxford, where respective levels of up to 281mg/m3 and 252mg/m3 were recorded.

Regarding other air pollutants, no zones breached the PM10 limit of 50mg/m3 which must not be exceeded for more than 35 days a year. As allowed under EU rules, UK authorities use an adjustment factor when reporting PM10 that subtracts concentrations of naturally occurring sea salt from recorded levels. But Mr Birkett said this was "misleading" because the worst PM10 levels were recorded during calm weather with little wind to bring sea salt to London.

For fine particulates (PM2.5), average background levels across the UK fell from 14mg/m3 in 2011 to 12mg/m3 in 2012. By 2020, the UK must cut exposures to PM2.5 by 15% against the average level during 2010-12, which was 13mg/m3.


Poor government policy means carbon reduction targets
will not be met says environmental audit select committee

Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 8 October 2013

An influential group of MPs has weighed into the simmering row over the UK's carbon budgets, warning that the carbon reduction targets for 2022 and beyond will be missed, because of poor government policy on energy and the environment.

Carbon budgets have become a key political battleground as George Osborne has vowed that the UK will not lead on climate action. Battlelines are being drawn ahead of the key review of the 2023 to 2027 carbon budget, which will be published next year.

The environmental audit select committee said the current carbon targets represented the minimum cuts the UK could make to keep within international commitments. They said it was vital that the government should not attempt to water down its "carbon budgets", or the UK would fail internationally and lose the race to compete for green technologies, a rapidly growing sector of the international economy.

Joan Walley, chair of the environmental audit committee, said: "Emissions are currently not falling fast enough to prevent a dangerous destabilisation of the global climate in the coming decades - it would be incredibly short-sighted to slacken our carbon budgets now."

Last week, the committee on climate change wrote to Ed Davey to say that its preliminary assessment showed that the current fourth carbon budget, from 2023 to 2027, should be held to. The committee, set up under the climate change act to advise ministers on how to meet the climate targets, and the effects of policy on emissions, also said the government should make a decision on the fourth carbon budget as early as possible in the new year.

But many Tories want to ignore the committee and go for looser carbon targets. The row could take months to resolve, and is likely to prove unsettling for green investors and businesses, who want clarity on policy.

Walley warned that watering down the budget would be contrary to the landmark report on climate change less than two weeks ago from the world's leading experts. "The UK's leading climate scientists are saying loud and clear that there is no scientific case for watering down our long-term emissions reduction targets. And the recent IPCC report echoes that message. Policy-makers must listen."

Nick Molho, head of climate policy at WWF-UK, said: "The review of the fourth carbon budget adds needless political risk to the enormous risks posed by climate change. All the evidence suggests that delaying action on reducing emissions is a false economy - it will cost more, and could result in the UK missing out on the significant growth opportunities of the low carbon economy."

He called on the prime minister, who intervened personally in 2011 to ensure the fourth carbon budget was accepted as coalition policy, to take a strong stance again. "The battle lines are being drawn in Whitehall, but this will come down to David Cameron's leadership. He championed the Climate Change Act in opposition as a legal framework that heeds the science and gives long-term certainty to businesses and investors. Just last week, he rightly highlighted the value of the green economy in his leader's speech at Conservative party conference. At the review, he should say unequivocally that the UK will stick to the course it has set."

The key reasons the 2022 targets would not be met were the failure to insulate houses and decarbonise transport and heat production, the EAC report found. The report also found that arrangements for managing and reporting progress against carbon budgets have not been working properly. The MPs complained that the government's carbon plan, which set milestones for five key government departments to cut carbon, was out of date. Quarterly progress reports against milestones were not published as promised and current departmental business plans are not aligned with the plan.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change had not responded to a request for a comment.

Walley said: "Ministers need to show much more vision now on how we can cut waste, improve our public transport and insulate more homes and businesses from rising fossil fuel costs. If we leave these changes for another 10 years it will become much more expensive to meet our climate change targets and we will be left behind by successful green countries like Germany."


CAA Online Public Statement - 3 October 2013

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today published for consultation its final proposals for the economic regulation of Heathrow and Gatwick airports to protect passengers after April 2014.

The proposals are tailored so each airport remains globally competitive and can deliver the customer experience that passengers expect of airports in the 21st century. They challenge airports to operate more efficiently, and to work more closely with airlines to develop competitive offerings for travellers.

Heathrow has called for a 4.6% annual real-terms increase in its charges over five years. Its airlines have asked for a 9.8% per year cut. We propose a price control that will not allow prices to rise by more than inflation (measured by RPI). That compares to our initial proposals for RPI minus 1.3%. A key reason for this is due to an increase in the cost of capital driven by higher debt costs, offset to some degree by more challenging targets for operating efficiency. The proposals will put an end to over a decade of prices rising faster than inflation at Heathrow. This has supported significant investment in Heathrow over the last decade and our current proposals will also create a supportive environment for further capital expenditure.

Gatwick has set out a series of price commitments to its users, with the average price to grow by RPI + 0.5% per year for seven years. The CAA has today published its detailed analysis that suggests that this is a fair price. In addition, we believe that the airport's commitments are in passengers' interests, so they are the basis of our final proposals. They will be backed by a licence to ensure that they are honoured. The licence will also ensure the CAA can continue to act where appropriate to protect users, for instance if there are reductions in service quality that are against the passenger interest.

Since taking over ownership of Stansted in April, Manchester Airport Group (MAG), has reached long-term commercial agreements with its two principal customers, easyJet and Ryanair. We announced on 17 September that we would consult on how these may affect the market power assessment before making a final decision on whether Stansted should be regulated and if so, on the appropriate regulatory approach for the airport.

Final proposals for all three airports would take effect if the CAA makes a final decision in January that they have substantial market power that requires regulation.

Commenting on the final proposals, Dame Deirdre Hutton, CAA Chair, said: "Our proposals demonstrate how we can regulate airports more flexibly where this seems best for passengers, but also setting a tough efficiency challenge. We expect the airports to work closely with airlines to provide high-quality services to passengers. Tackling the upward drift in Heathrow's prices is essential to safeguard its globally competitive position. The challenge for Heathrow is to maintain high levels of customer service while reducing costs. We are confident this is possible and that our proposals create a positive climate for further capital investment, in the passenger interest."

"Gatwick has tabled a revised price offer to airlines that we consider fair, and its new commitments framework offers a chance for a more commercially driven and tailored approach. To protect the diverse interests of passengers, we propose a licence based on the commitments. We would monitor the success of such a new approach and adjust our regulation over time to ensure it remains proportionate."

The proposals are made using powers set out in the Civil Aviation Act 2012, which allows more flexibility than in the past, so the CAA's current regulatory proposals reflect the unique circumstances of each airport. The CAA is required to assess the level of market dominance at airports it proposes to regulate, explaining clearly why regulation will achieve better outcomes for consumers than the market and then set out its proposals. To qualify for regulation, an airport must have, or be likely to get, substantial market power, and economic regulation must be likely to improve outcomes for passengers. CAA will publish its decision on market power for both Gatwick and Heathrow and, where appropriate, its final decision on the necessary form of regulation in January.

An overview of the CAA's consultations for the airports can be seen here, with links through to the separate documents: Preparing for a future with passengers at its heart.

The consultation documents for each airport along with several associated documents can be found here: Economic Regulation of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

A briefing about airport economic regulation, setting out why regulation is necessary and the CAA?s approach is available here: CAA Briefing Note.

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