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 - April to June 2015

SAFFRON WALDEN MP SAYS BORIS JOHNSON'S
EXTRA STANSTED RUNWAY CALL IS 'NONSENSE'

Angela Singer - Dunmow Broadcast - 25 June 2015

The renewed proposal for a second runway at Stansted Airport by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has been dismissed as "quite eccentric" by Sir Alan Hazelhurst the Conservative MP for Saffron Walden.

Sir Alan told the Reporter: "It's quite an eccentric proposal. The Davis Commission has already knocked it on the head and Boris is trying to resurrect it. I shall give him a piece of my mind. I have already told him that I don't want to hear any more nonsense about Stansted and I shall tell him again."

He added: "He's been consistent as Mayor of London in opposing the extra runway at Heathrow and now (as the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip) he has a constituency interest as well. He has a sovereign right to say that and I have a sovereign right to tell him he's wrong."

The Mayor of London has renewed calls for a second runway at Stansted to alleviate the UK's air capacity problems. But Stansted even though it is the UK's fastest growing airport, has plenty of capacity to expand even with just one runway. In two years, it has increased its annual passenger numbers by four million, from 17.5million to 21.5million, but its current capacity is over 40million.

Yet Boris Johnson says expansion there should be reconsidered as it is a better option than a third runway at Heathrow. He said: "You should see the map of the extra noise over London that will be produced by a third runway, you should see the modelling that Transport for London have done on the traffic impacts of vehicular pollution. One of the things that interests me about Crossrail Two (which will run trains from Shenfield to Maidenhead, in Berkshire) is that it does open up the possibilities of Stansted."

A spokesman for the Manchester Airports Group, which took over the running of Stansted Airport in 2013, said: "Whereas Gatwick and Heathrow are full, we don't need a second runway. It would be better to make greater use of the facility we have and improve railway services to support that. Boris is right about Crossrail."

Since the Manchester Airport Group (MAG) took over Stansted, a five-year, 260million improvement plan has been actioned at the airport with 80million currently being spent on the terminal building.

Expansion at Stansted was rejected by the Davies Commission into Airport Capacity in the UK in an interim report in February 2013. The commission's full report into airport expansion is due to be released in the next month.


AIRCRAFT NOISE GROUPS ACCUSE INDUSTRY
OF CREATING 'GHETTOS' IN THE SOUTH-EAST

Nicholas Cecil - Standard Online - 1 June 2015

The aviation industry was accused today of creating "noise ghettos" blighting communities in the South-East.

Action groups say tens of thousands of people are suffering more noise due to changes in the pattern of flights coming in to land at Heathrow, Gatwick and London City Airport. They have written to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, urging him to intervene.

"It is clearly a good thing to reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise if that can be done without materially adversely impacting others," they wrote. "It is quite another thing to create persecuted noise ghettos, and no British government should allow itself to be associated with such a policy no matter how politically attractive. It is simply not consistent with core British values."

The groups claimed airspace changes had increased the number of people significantly affected by the sound of aircraft traffic. They called for new laws governing and controlling the usage of airspace by Nats, the national air traffic control agency, and requiring the Civil Aviation Authority to give "true consideration" to local residents affected by noise, which they claimed is currently not the case.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said: "All the protest groups coming together should send a clear message to the Government that residents are fed up with being ignored and that they will not be disregarded."

With the Airports Commission due to deliver its final report on airport expansion within weeks, Mr Sewill said he could not see how new runways could be built given the "anger that is being vented at all airport operators due to the current airspace changes".

Helen Hansen of Heathrow community group Caian - Communities Against Increased Aircraft Noise - added: "It's time to put human health and well-being before profits for airlines and airports, by instituting proper regulatory safeguards to minimise aircraft noise over heavily populated areas."

Nats said that all airspace developments associated with the UK's Future Airspace Strategy are carried out subject to the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority's Directorate of Airspace Policy's airspace change proposal process, which sets out guidance for consultation on proposed alterations. "We are committed to working with airport and airline customers and communities to seek innovative solutions to noise issues around airports," it added.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said: "We recognise that noise can be an issue for communities under flight paths, and earlier this year established a Heathrow Community Noise Forum to examine the steps that can be taken to improve transparency and reduce noise impacts." She added that the airport had launched initiatives to address noise concerns including steeper landing descents, encouraging airlines to fix the "whine" from A320 passenger jets, and incentivising airlines to use their cleanest, quietest aircraft.

Gatwick said it had adopted "industry-leading approaches" to limit noise impact but added that it "welcomed discussions on how this process can be further improved".


IT'S NOT ABOUT WHERE WE PUT A RUNWAY
DON'T BUILD ONE AT ALL
INTRODUCE A POLLUTERS' TAX ON FREQUENT FLIERS.

The Observer - 21 June 2015

Any moment now, the Airports Commission will finally publish its recommendation for new runway capacity at either Heathrow or Gatwick. What will be missing from this report is a third option that would be preferred by many: no new runway at either airport.

Britain's skies are already some of the busiest in the world and Howard Davies knows that these expansion plans cannot be made to fit with the UK's long-term commitments under the Climate Change Act. Contrary to aviation lobby rhetoric, a new runway is not needed to allow more international business flights, which have been declining steadily since the turn of the century.

The hub airport argument is a smokescreen. In reality, growing demand for air travel is concentrated in the short-haul leisure sector and among a small, wealthy minority of the population. It is more of these flights that a new runway will in practice service.

This growth in flights is driven by air fares that are kept artificially low through generous tax subsidies; aviation is exempt from fuel duty by international treaty and zero rated for VAT. Yet these tax breaks almost exclusively benefit the richest section of British society. Our analysis of passenger survey data shows that 15% of the UK population are taking 70% of all our flights.

That's why we are calling today to replace air passenger duty with a frequent flyer levy that taxes travellers according to how often they fly, shifting the burden away from families flying to their one annual holiday and on to the frequent flyers who are driving expansion. Our research shows that this "polluter pays" approach would enable the UK to meet our climate targets without making flying the preserve of the rich - and without needing to build any new runways.

Signed by:
John Stewart, HACAN; Stewart Wallis, New Economics Foundation; John Sauven, Greenpeace UK; Joe Jenkins, Friends of the Earth; Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport; Manuel Cortes, TSSA Union; Tahir Latif, PCS Union Aviation Group president; John Christensen, Tax Justice Network; Duncan Exley, Equality Trust; Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK; Ed Gillespie, London Sustainability commissioner and co-founder Futerra; Andrew Simms, co-founder of the New Weather Institute & fellow of NEF; Elena Blackmore, Public Interest Research Centre; Jamie Andrews, Loco2; Leo Murray, 10:10; Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland; Colin Howden, Transform Scotland


EPA MOVES TOWARDS REGULATING AIRCRAFT EMISSIONS

Valerie Volcovici - Reuters - 10 June 2015

The Obama administration on Wednesday released a scientific finding that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health, paving the way for regulating emissions from the U.S. aviation industry.

The "endangerment finding" by the Environmental Protection Agency would allow the administration to implement a global carbon dioxide emissions standard being developed by the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization.

In its 194-page finding, the EPA said it took "a preliminary but necessary first step to begin to address greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector, the highest-emitting category of transportation sources that the EPA has not yet addressed."

The ICAO is due to release its CO2 standard in February 2016, with the aim of adopting it later that year. But the requirement is expected to apply only to new aircraft designs certified from 2020, leaving most of the world's existing fleets unaffected for years to come.

Aviation accounted for 11 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector in 2013, and nearly 30 percent of global aircraft emissions in 2010, the latest year with complete global emissions data.

The EPA's ruling will mark the first step toward regulating aviation's greenhouse gas emissions, and aviation will become the latest industrial sector to be regulated under the Clean Air Act after cars, trucks and large stationary sources like power plants. But it came only after a federal court ruled in 2012 in favor of environmental groups that had sued the EPA, saying it was obligated to regulate aircraft emissions under the law.

The airline industry favours a global standard over individual national standards since carriers operate all over the world and want to avoid a patchwork of rules and measures, such as taxes, charges and emissions trading programs. "If you're a big airline and you're flying to 100 countries a day, then complying with all those different regimes is an administrative nightmare," said Paul Steele, senior vice president at the International Air Transport Association, the industry's main global organization.

But some environmental groups are concerned that the standard being discussed at ICAO will do little to change the status quo right now. "The stringency being discussed at ICAO is such that existing aircraft are already meeting the standard they are weighing," said Sarah Burt, a lawyer at Earthjustice, one of several groups that sued the EPA. Planes generally stay in service for 20 or 30 years, she added.

International Council on Clean Transportation Program Director Dan Rutherford said that to ensure real emissions reductions from airlines, ICAO should apply a carbon dioxide standard to all new aircraft delivered after 2020. But ICAO is weighing a standard that would apply only to new designs certified after the expected application date of Jan. 1, 2020. Such an approach would mean the standard would only cover about 5 percent of the global aircraft fleet in 2030, he said.


AIRPORTS COMMISSION LAUNCHES
NEW REVIEW ON RUNWAY EXPANSION

Jane Wild and Peggy Hollinger - Financial Times - 7 May 2015

Sir Howard Davies has decided at the eleventh hour to launch a new public consultation on the question of airport expansion, stoking fears of further delays to a politically sensitive decision. In a bid to avert a potential legal challenge to the three-year review, the airports commission chaired by Sir Howard will tell Heathrow and Gatwick on Friday that it is seeking public comment on the impact of expansion on air quality. The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled last month that Britain must speed up its efforts to tackle air pollution, having breached EU limits.

The news will raise concerns that the commission's recommendation on where to build a new runway - which was to have been ready for the new transport minister - could be delayed.

This would dismay business leaders and the airline industry who have repeatedly warned against further delays to a decision postponed several times by successive governments. With Heathrow already running at full capacity, a new runway is seen as vital to UK growth and trade.

Sir Howard will be under pressure to ensure the process does not drag on because he is due to start a new job as chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland in September. The commission is still hoping to deliver a report by the end of June, although people close to the process suggested this could be difficult.

The consultation is expected to finish by the end of the month and will be technically focused. It is not likely to require a series of meetings with the general public.

The commission came under fire from environmental groups after its interim report in November failed to draw specific conclusions on air quality. It promised to offer more detailed information about pollution at a later date, though it expressed confidence in the submissions made by the shortlisted bidders - two for expansion at Heathrow airport and one for Gatwick. However, its analysis has delivered unexpected conclusions and it will have to be submitted for further comment.

Heathrow's bid for expansion has been criticised given that the roads surrounding the UK's largest airport already breach EU air pollution limits. A previous government decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow was overturned by the courts in 2010 on environmental grounds. Gatwick has always claimed that expansion at Heathrow could again be challenged legally.

The commission's decision to seek further public comment will be an extra safeguard against any judicial review. "It could be vulnerable unless they do something," said one person close to the bidders.


AIRPORTS' RUNWAY ROW INTENSIFIES

homebt.com/news online - 29 May 2015

The increasingly bitter battle between Heathrow and Gatwick airports to be chosen as the site for a new runway has intensified.

First, Gatwick said that Heathrow's expansion plans were illegal as they would breach air quality limits. Then London Mayor Boris Johnson said the consultation on airport air quality by the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission, the body that will shortly recommend which runway plan should get the go ahead, was "deeply flawed".

Gatwick said a legal challenge could be expected should the commission choose Heathrow while Mr Johnson, who is bitterly opposed to Heathrow expansion, said the commission's final report would be "worthless" unless work on air quality was "redone properly".

The comments came as all interested parties submitted their views on the commission's air quality report on the final day of a consultation period. The report followed the setting last month by the UK's Supreme Court of a deadline for the Government to produce new plans for reducing air pollution levels.

Today, Gatwick bosses said that Heathrow was already in breach of legal air quality limits and expansion at the west London airport would make things worse. Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said Gatwick had not breached limits and still would not if a second runway was built at the West Sussex airport. Mr Wingate added: "If a new runway at Heathrow is recommended it will be wide open to a legal challenge."

Two separate runway schemes at Heathrow and one at Gatwick have made it on to the shortlist of the commission which earlier ruled out Mr Johnson's so-called "Boris Island" airport scheme in the Thames Estuary.

Mr Johnson said today: "This rushed and deeply flawed consultation undermines the commission's credibility and only illuminates the ghastly consequences for Londoners of any decision to expand Heathrow. Fundamental questions go unanswered, inconsistent methodologies are applied, key mitigation measures remain mysterious."

He went on: "And, although they have employed a method of analysis that blatantly favours Heathrow, the commission have been unable to hide the terrible consequences of a third runway, which would clearly leave the Government entirely incapable of meeting its legal obligations on air quality. Unless the commission re-does this work properly any final report that they issue in the next couple of months will be so full of holes as to be worthless."

Heathrow Ltd, the promoters of one of the two Heathrow schemes, said today: "The Government has set up an independent commission to recommend how we can maintain the UK's position as Europe's most important aviation hub. After three years of extensive consultation, evidence gathering and analysis, the commission has confirmed that Heathrow can expand well within local air quality limits."

The company went on: "We have worked with local communities and campaign groups and commit to playing our part in meeting local air quality limits. Our new approach to Heathrow expansion will make sure we meet our environmental commitments and deliver 211 billion of economic growth and 180,000 jobs for Britain."


CAMPAIGNERS GEAR UP FOR
LEGAL CHALLENGE OVER UK RUNWAYS

Richard Westcott, BBC Transport Correspondent - bbconline - 18 May 2015

A second Gatwick runway is one of the options being considered by the Airports Commission.

A charity, which successfully took the last Heathrow expansion scheme to court, says it could do the same again if ministers press ahead with a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick. Next month the independent Airports Commission will recommend growing one of the two to handle increased demand.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says it's always had "serious concerns" about the commission's work. And it told the BBC the final runways report was "bound to be tainted".

'Legal advice'
"Reasonable alternatives have been ignored from the start", the charity's Transport Campaign Manager (and barrister) Ralph Smyth said. "If the government decides to proceed we are bound to take legal advice as the first step to a challenge in the courts."

The commission was set up two and a half years ago after the airports issue threatened to untie the-then Coalition government. Soon, the new government will have to decide whether to go along with its final recommendation or pick its own winner.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the BBC that the commission had considered 52 proposals. "This included examining whether additional capacity was required and how to make the most of our existing airports and runways," he said. He added: "The Commission's final report this summer will mark the end of the most comprehensive and transparent process ever initiated by a British government on aviation."

Legal challenges have become inevitable with any big project, as opponents probe how well the government has gone about its decision. The controversial high speed train scheme, HS2, has faced a number of judicial reviews, although none has successfully stopped or even delayed the project.

The 2010 court case
Five years ago the CPRE joined ranks with a number of councils and the main anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan in a court action against Labour's plan for a third runway in west London. Back then, the judge found that the consultation process was flawed because it used old figures for the economy and the environment. It didn't stop the scheme, but it did send ministers away with a lot of homework to do. Not long after that, the coalition came to power and binned the project altogether.

But Hacan's chair, John Stewart, has told the BBC he's not certain that they will go back to the courts this time, if Heathrow comes out on top. "It's very expensive, we'd have to know there is a good chance of winning", he said.

Despite admitting that some residents might be swayed by offers of more financial help and respite from noise, he still maintains that there will be "overwhelming local opposition", if the government picks Heathrow.

Gatwick expansion also evokes a lot of local opposition, although not on the same scale because fewer people live under the flightpath.

The CPRE remains confident of support no matter which scheme is favoured. "We were part of a broad alliance of local authorities and charities that in 2010 defeated the last attempt to build a new runway," said Mr Smyth. "We can be sure the alliance this time round will be even bigger".


HEATHROW SAYS LATEST AIR QUALITY STATS
SUPPORT CASE FOR THIRD RUNWAY

Robert Cumber - getwestlondononline - 9 May 2015

But Airports Commission says without mitigation expansion would delay efforts to meet EU pollution limits.

Heathrow has welcomed new air quality forecasts, despite them suggesting a third runway would delay efforts to meet EU pollution limits.

The Airports Commission, which is considering rival bids for expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick, yesterday (Friday, May 8) published detailed new estimates of how the different schemes would affect the amount of harmful emissions. Its findings suggest each of the three shortlisted options could go ahead without breaching legally-binding EU air pollution limits in 2030.

However, they also suggest a third runway at Heathrow or an extended northern runway there would delay efforts to comply with the limit, which is already exceeded at points around the airport.

The report, published to coincide with the launch of a three-week consultation on air quality, states: "There are no predicted exceedences of the air quality objective at any receptor location, in either the Do-Minimum or Heathrow NWR (north-west runway) scenarios."

However, it goes on to say the "incremental change" associated with that scheme "would delay Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) in achieving compliance within the limit value" without any mitigation. It also says a third runway would make the air dirtier for about 47,000 properties around Heathrow and casts doubt over whether the airport can deliver on its target to get more than half of staff and passengers using public transport.

Heathrow's chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "This evidence from the Airports Commission is great news for Heathrow expansion. It shows that our plan, which has been produced with local community views at its core, can be delivered without exceeding air quality limits."

The commission was widely predicted to publish its final recommendations in late May or early June. But this latest consultation, reportedly launched at the eleventh hour to ward off a potential legal challenge, means the wait is likely to be extended.

Heathrow last month published a new 10-point plan to tackle air pollution. Among other commitments, it said it would push for an Ultra Low Emission Zone around the airport, which would exclude all but the cleanest vehicles. The airport operator says the vast majority of pollution around its perimeter is caused by traffic, most of which is not connected to Heathrow.

The Conservative manifesto said the party would respond to the commission's final report but made no specific reference to Heathrow expansion, to which a number of high-profile Tory MPs, including Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith, are opposed.

The Airports Commission was set up in September 2012 to evaluate the need for additional aviation capacity. It has shortlisted three options: a new north-west runway at Heathrow; an extended northern runway at Heathrow, allowing it to be used simultaneously for take-offs and landings; and a second runway at Gatwick.

The commission received more than 50,000 responses to a 12-week consultation, which closed in February this year, on its assessment of those three options. Its public consultation on air quality opened on Friday, May 8 and closed at midday on Friday, May 29.

OUR COMMENT: Heathrow's forecasts are impossibly optimistic. Airports, like all traffic centres, cause air pollution from the emissions of today's cars, vans, lorries and in the case of airports, also from aircraft. The amount of pollution rises with the size of the airport and probably will exceed the levels that risk damaging the health of the local population once the number of passengers increases to 30 - 40 mppa.

Pat Dale


HEATHROW AND GATWICK CAMPAIGNERS
JOIN FORCES OVER AIRCRAFT NOISE

Peggy Hollinger, Industry Editor - Financial Times - 1 June 2015

Protesters against expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick airports have come together for the first time to demand changes in aviation policy, just weeks before a three-year review of new runway capacity for the south-east of England delivers its verdict.

Members of a dozen leading protest groups against expansion of airports in the south-east of England are calling on the Department for Transport to toughen up regulation of air traffic control in a bid to reduce aircraft noise, and to reverse new flight paths introduced as part of a European initiative to make better use of airspace, but which have concentrated aircraft noise.

The route changes - which mean aircraft fly in and out on narrower corridors - have "clearly increased the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise," the campaign groups say in a letter to be delivered to the transport minister on Monday and copied to the prime minister. "A new class of significantly affected people has been created, in the name of the government?s policy, with no consultation or redress."

The complaint is timed to maximise pressure on the government as it prepares for the advice of the Airports Commission, set up three years ago to recommend the best choice for airport expansion. The commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, is expected to deliver its finding by the end of June. A last-minute public consultation on the environmental impact of expansion - called three weeks ago to minimise the chances of a legal challenge - concluded on Friday.

The government has pledged to consider the commission's recommendation, although it has stopped short of promising to implement the findings. The issue is politically charged with a number of marginal seats sitting under the Heathrow flight path, while business is heavily in favour of expansion. Gatwick has vocal opponents as well, making the choice a difficult one for a government with a slim majority.

"We cannot see how any airport expansion can go forward with the anger that is being vented at all airport operators due to the current airspace changes," said Brendon Sewill, chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign. "All the protest groups coming together should send a clear message to the government that residents are fed up with being ignored and that they will not be disregarded."

Helen Hansen of the Anti-Heathrow group, Communities Against Increased Aircraft Noise, said: "It's time to put human health and wellbeing before profits for airlines and airports, by instituting proper regulatory safeguards to minimise aircraft noise over heavily populated areas."

The battle between Heathrow and Gatwick over which airport will be allowed to expand has become increasingly heated. Gatwick's management suggested last week it could take legal action if Heathrow was chosen, because certain areas leading into the airport are already in breach of EU environmental limits on pollution. Heathrow has insisted that it would only expand within EU air quality limits and that the breaches are not because of airport traffic but part of a wider problem with pollution faced in London.


AIRCRAFT NOISE GROUPS ACCUSE INDUSTRY
OF CREATING 'GHETTOS' IN THE SOUTH-EAST

Nicholas Cecil - Evening Standard - 1 June 2015

The aviation industry was accused today of creating "noise ghettos" blighting communities in the South-East.

Action groups say tens of thousands of people are suffering more noise due to changes in the pattern of flights coming in to land at Heathrow, Gatwick and London City Airport. They have written to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, urging him to intervene.

"It is clearly a good thing to reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise if that can be done without materially adversely impacting others," they wrote. "It is quite another thing to create persecuted noise ghettos, and no British government should allow itself to be associated with such a policy no matter how politically attractive. It is simply not consistent with core British values."

The groups claimed airspace changes had increased the number of people significantly affected by the sound of aircraft traffic. They called for new laws governing and controlling the usage of airspace by Nats, the national air traffic control agency, and requiring the Civil Aviation Authority to give "true consideration" to local residents affected by noise, which they claimed is currently not the case.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said: "All the protest groups coming together should send a clear message to the Government that residents are fed up with being ignored and that they will not be disregarded."

With the Airports Commission due to deliver its final report on airport expansion within weeks, Mr Sewill said he could not see how new runways could be built given the "anger that is being vented at all airport operators due to the current airspace changes".

Helen Hansen of Heathrow community group Caian - Communities Against Increased Aircraft Noise - added: "It's time to put human health and well-being before profits for airlines and airports, by instituting proper regulatory safeguards to minimise aircraft noise over heavily populated areas."

Nats said that all airspace developments associated with the UK's Future Airspace Strategy are carried out subject to the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority's Directorate of Airspace Policy's airspace change proposal process, which sets out guidance for consultation on proposed alterations.

"We are committed to working with airport and airline customers and communities to seek innovative solutions to noise issues around airports," it added.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said: "We recognise that noise can be an issue for communities under flight paths, and earlier this year established a Heathrow Community Noise Forum to examine the steps that can be taken to improve transparency and reduce noise impacts."

She added that the airport had launched initiatives to address noise concerns including steeper landing descents, encouraging airlines to fix the "whine" from A320 passenger jets, and incentivising airlines to use their cleanest, quietest aircraft.

Gatwick said it had adopted "industry-leading approaches" to limit noise impact but added that it "welcomed discussions on how this process can be further improved".

OUR COMMENT: Aircraft are noisy as well as polluting! Is there a level of noise that can be regarded as acceptable to those living round airports? And, how should it be measured, by average or by maximum noise levels experienced?

Pat Dale


FAA PLANS MAJOR STUDY OF U.S. AIRPORT NOISE

David Morgan & Grant McCool - Reuters - 8 May 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to study airport noise across the United States to determine whether policymakers need to change the way they measure noise from passing aircraft.

Describing the project as the most comprehensive single U.S. noise survey conducted, the FAA said on Friday it would begin polling communities around 20 airports by mail and telephone within the next two to three months. The agency, which did not identify the airports, hoped to finish gathering data by the end of 2016.

"Aircraft manufacturers (have) incorporated technologies that resulted in dramatically quieter aircraft. However, residents around many of the largest U.S. airports have expressed concerns about aircraft noise associated with the continuing growth of the aviation industry," the agency said.

The aim is to determine whether or not the FAA should change its approach to measuring aircraft noise and to examine land uses near airports.

Medical studies have linked elevated noise levels from aircraft, auto traffic and other sources to health problems including hypertension and heart disease.

Meanwhile, air traffic continues to grow. In 2014, airlines carried nearly 850 million passengers, up from just over 700 million in 2003, and passenger traffic is expected to climb at a rate of 2.2 percent a year over the next two decades, according to government research.

The FAA currently measures aircraft noise on a scale that averages all community noise during a 24-hour period, with a ten-fold penalty for noise that occurs during night and early morning hours. The approach is based on transportation noise surveys conducted in the 1970s. In 1981, the FAA established 65 decibels as the average guideline at which federal funding should become available for soundproofing or other noise mitigation.


PLANS FOR 4,000-SPACE MULTI-STOREY
CAR PARK AT STANSTED AIRPORT

Herts & Essex Observer - 16 May 2015

Plans for a six-storey car park at Stansted Airport, adding 4,000 new spaces, have been submitted to Uttlesford District Council.

The proposals have been put forward by AP27 Ltd, based at Heathrow Airport, which bought the site - called Site 500 - from the airport's previous owner, BAA, in 2008. The 5.6-acre (2.3ha) grassed plot is at Coopers End roundabout, immediately north of the Bassingbourn roundabout. It neighbours the Endeavour House office block and its car park, which AP27 also owns.

The company justified its application, saying there was "strong demand from independent car park operators who are unable to obtain airport parking sites due to the near-monopoly control of the airport operator coupled with restrictive planning policies outside the airport boundary".

It has submitted a parallel application for outline planning permission to accommodate an "Endeavour House 2" office building within the car park of the existing Endeavour House.

It says: "This demonstrates that a second airport office building could be provided at Coopers End Road and that Site 500 is separately able to accommodate alternative, directly-related airport development."

As Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Stansted's owner, looks to double passengers at the airport to around 35m a year over the next decade, AP27 argues: "Independent car park operators would provide much-needed consumer choice and industry competition to the benefit of airport users."

Stansted has 25,726 car parking spaces. More than 50 per cent of the airport's passengers use public transport to get to and from the terminal.


STOP STANSTED EXPANSION CALLS ON ELECTION CANDIDATES
TO SUPPORT BAN ON NIGHT FLIGHTS AT AIRPORT

Herts & Essex Observer - 27 April 2015

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is calling on all election candidates to support a ban on night flights at the airport. It currently has permission to operate 12,000 night flights a year, more than twice as many as Heathrow.

SSE argues that night flights have a far greater impact on residents around Stansted because of its rural location where background noise levels are generally low.

The number of night flights has increased over the past year and SSE blames the closure of Manston Airport. It claims Manston's remaining cargo airlines transferred to Stansted. Previously they were subject to a ban on night flights, imposed by the local council, however, there is no such ban at Stansted.

The 12,000 limit only applies to the 6.5 hour period between 11.30pm and 6am whereas SSE says the normal definition of 'night' is the eight hours between 11pm and 7am. There are no restrictions on the number of aircraft permitted to take-off and land at Stansted during the so-called shoulder periods between 11pm and 11.30pm and between 6am and 7am.

Martin Peachey, SSE's noise adviser, said: "Politicians of all persuasions appear sympathetic to ways of reducing the effects of sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights for residents around airports. With the approaching general election and local council elections, we invite politicians of all parties to support a timetable to progressively phase out nights flights."

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "Stansted is unique in the South East as the only airport with a dedicated freight as well as a passenger operation, so whilst we understand that night noise is an important issue for airport communities, a reduction in the limit would have a damaging effect on the UK economy and only serve to transfer movements to airports with greater environmental impacts."


CAMPAIGNERS DEMAND TRUE AIRCRAFT NOISE MEASUREMENT

Sebastian Murphy-Bates - Newham Recorder - 6 April 2015

Campaigners are calling for a change to the way aircraft noise is measured. Noise pollution activist group HACAN East, which opposed the expansion of London City Airport over aircraft noise fears, says more needs to be done to protect people living under noisy flight paths.

For the group's chair, John Stewart, the problem is partly down to a lack of measurement of the cumulative noise produced by airports whose flights cross neighbouring areas. He believes separate measurements of each airport's noise fail to give a true picture of the impact on residents, resulting in official statistics that underestimate aircraft noise levels.

"We need to get a figure for the total noise if we are to get a picture of the real noise levels experienced by residents," he said. "In the areas of east and south east London, where people get planes from both London City and Heathrow, noise levels will be a lot higher than official statistics show."

The concerns remain despite mayor of London Boris Johnson's blocking of London City Airport's proposed expansion. Declan Collier, CEO at London City Airport, told the Recorder that his airport has the strictest noise policies in the UK. He cited the airport's noise mitigation plans in pursuit of the expansion, its adherence to a cap on air movements, commitment to try and reduce noise contour areas, incentives for quieter aircraft and funding for sound-proofing in homes affected by any expansion.

But John Stewart claims the Greater London Assembly backed cumulative noise readings two years ago, and that the airport should recognise this. And he says that not only are Collier's measures insufficient - but the industry is intentionally providing the separate, misleading figures to suit itself. "It is not rocket science to assess the cumulative noise," he said. "The suspicion remains that it suits the aviation industry not to paint the full picture."


SECOND PHASE OF 80M STANSTED AIRPORT
DEVELOPMENT OFFICIALLY OPENED

Will Lodge - archantonline - 28 April 2015

Phase two of an 80million project to transform restaurants on offer at Stansted Airport was officially opened yesterday, amid hopes the improved offer will attract long-haul airlines to the transport hub.

A total of 12 new bars, cafes and restaurants were unveiled within the Essex airport by Charlie Cornish, chief executive of the Manchester Airport Group (MAG). Restaurants range from fast food outlets such as Burger King and a 2.7m revamped JD Wetherspoon pub complete with mezzanine floor looking over the runway, to the first-ever James Martin Kitchen - a bakery set up by the celebrity chef, who was at the launch event - and the Halo champagne bar.

The new offering, which has created around 300 new jobs, follows earlier work to upgrade and expand the security area and improve the retail offering for passengers travelling through the airport. Also included in the revamp are more departure boards allowing passengers to keep up-to-date on their flights throughout the terminal and charging points.

Andrew Harrison, managing director of the airport, said the new offering was a vital component in efforts to attract a scheduled long-haul route to the airport. "As an airport we are looking to appeal to all different airlines and all different customer segments - though that is not to say that people travelling on low budget airlines are low budget travellers," he said.

"We still think we will be at 30 million passengers in the next decade, and over the past 12 months we have been the fastest growing airport in the UK. We are in detailed conversations with a number of airlines about more long-haul flights, and if they don't already fly here we have got to convince them Stansted is the next best place in the world to fly from."

"That includes showing them the strength of the area including Essex and Suffolk. Our part of the world is really a unique opportunity and it has not been presented to the long-haul companies in that way before. By 2016 we are pretty hopeful we will be able to announce something. They are making a multi-million pound decision on a scarce resource, an aircraft, and if they don't fill the flights it is their loss. But investment from us into things like this sets the foundation."

He added the biggest challenge of the project was completing the work while passenger numbers grew at the single terminal airport, which first thing in the morning is the busiest in Europe.

Two charter carriers, Thomas Cook and Thomson, are already running flights to Mexico and the USA this summer.

Beth Brewster, MAG retail director, said more than 70 tenders were made for the 12 units, with a similar level of interest for the third phase of development which will see a further 16 retail units open before Christmas - describing it as "one of the best headaches I have had in my career". She added: "We have tried to make sure we offer something for everybody, across tastes and budgets."

The first phase of a second project to develop one of the satellite terminals will be completed in the autumn.


THOMSON AND FIRST CHOICE
UNLEASH DREAMLINER AT STANSTED

Kate Sweeney - Businessweeklyonline - 28 April 2015

Thomson and First Choice will be increasing capacity at London Stansted Airport next summer (2016) through the introduction of additional seats and new long haul routes served by the Thomson Airways 787 Dreamliner. From summer 2016, for the first time, Thomson and First Choice will be operating long haul flights from London Stansted allowing the area's holidaymakers easy access to the sunshine of Mexico's Caribbean Coast and Orlando, Florida.

The move to introduce the new routes is part of the holiday company's strategy to ensure customers across the UK can fly from their local airport and stay at the best hotels in some of the most exciting destinations. The new routes go on sale this month - on April 23, 2015.

Thomson Airways was the first UK airline to fly the state-of-the-art Dreamliner in 2013. The Dreamliner is already revolutionising air travel with advanced comfort and wellbeing features on-board reducing the effects of jet lag which customers flying from Stansted will now be able to take advantage of for the first time when travelling long haul.

Customers flying long haul Premium Club from Stansted in summer 2016 will be able to take advantage of exciting new benefits. All Premium Club customers will be granted access to the exclusive airport lounge, where they can enjoy space to relax with complimentary drinks and snacks - the perfect start to the holiday journey. Fast track through security and priority boarding will also be part of the offering when flying long haul in Premium Club.

Karen Switzer, director of aviation planning for Thomson and First Choice, said of the move: "We're excited to be able to extend our long haul offering served by the 787 Dreamliner to customers travelling from Stansted to two of our most popular long haul destinations from their airport of choice. The introduction of new long haul routes to Orlando Sanford, Florida and Cancun, Mexico for the first time demonstrates our commitment to Stansted Airport and the local area. Following the success of similar routes across a number of regional airports, we know that the demand is there."

"Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers."

Andrew Harrison, managing director at Stansted Airport added: "The announcement is fantastic news. This will be the first time an airline has operated the Dreamliner on any flight programme from Stansted and is another step in the right direction for the airport to offer passengers greater choice and to provide better services and facilities. I'm sure this news will be very well received by passengers seeking convenient long-haul holidays from the region and we're looking forward to supporting Thomson as it develops its new long-haul programme at Stansted."

OUR COMMENT: It remains to be seen (heard!) whether residents find that the Dreamliner lives up to its environmental claims of low noise emissions. It may also add to the number of night flights.

Pat Dale


STANSTED AIRPORT 'TANTALISINGLY CLOSE'
TO 21M PASSENGERS A YEAR MILESTONE

Herts & Essex Observer - 13 April 2015

Passenger numbers at Stansted Airport soared by almost an extra one million in the first three months of 2015, compared to the same period last year. Annual traveller numbers at the UK's fastest growing airport have increased by 16.3 per cent. The airport served over 20.9m passengers in the 12 months ending March 2015.

Last month, the airport saw over 1.67m passengers pass through the terminal, up 24 per cent on the same month last year and the 10th consecutive month of double digit growth at Stansted.

Managing director Andrew Harrison said: "The first three months of 2015 have been an extremely busy and exciting time for Stansted as the airport welcomed nearly one million more passengers during the period than in 2014. The total number of passengers using the airport in the last 12 months grew by over 16 per cent to leave us tantalisingly close to the 21m passengers a year milestone."

"In March, passenger numbers were up by more than 24 per cent over the same month last year. This excellent performance has seen Stansted experience double digit growth for ten consecutive months, a fantastic achievement and testament to the strength of our airline partners who have added more routes, increased frequencies to key destinations and seen more people on each flight."

"Growth in domestic traffic has been particularly strong with passenger numbers up 40 per cent over last year due to new Scottish flights from Ryanair plus the arrival of Flybe to serve Newcastle and Isle of Man with a Newquay service joining later this year. To help keep pace with this rapid growth in passenger numbers - Stansted is the fastest growing major airport in the UK - we continue with our investment programme to enhance and improve airport services and facilities, and we are also recruiting significant numbers of additional key staff to ensure we can get our passengers as quickly, efficiently and safely through the airport as possible."


Are Green Taxes fair? Climate Change will affect everyone and every flight counts!

ANGER AS AIR PASSENGER DUTY YIELDS 3.17BN

newsletter - businessonline - 28 April 2015

The air travel industry has responded with frustration and anger at the news that travellers paid more than 3 billion in air passenger duty (APD) last year. The total of 3.17bn for the airport departure tax for 2014/15 was 5.2 per cent more than in 2013/14, the HM Revenue and Customs' statistics highlighted by airline body the British Air Transport Association (Bata) showed.

The data prompted British Airways boss Willie Walsh to brand the tax "out of control" and demand its abolition.

Bata said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimated the take from APD will increase by a further 500m during the next Parliament, despite the tax being abolished for under-12s from this Friday and from under-16s from March 2016.

It added that by 2019/20, APD was forecast to raise 3.7bn a year - more than beer and cider duties (3.6bn) and the TV licence fee (3.3bn). It said that the total number of passengers paying APD last year was 105.9 million - 1.5m fewer than the pre-financial crisis peak year of 2007. However, the amount of revenue raised by APD has increased by more than 70 per cent over the same period.

Bata said the UK had the highest airport tax in Europe by a big margin. Germany had the second-highest air passenger tax in Europe, but it raised just 745m in 2014. Bata added that most European countries did not tax their citizens or visitors to fly abroad.

"These new statistics are worrying for anyone who cares about increasing exports, encouraging business growth and investment, and expanding tourism," said CEO Nathan Stower. "It's time to ask ourselves why our competitors either don't tax air travel at all or do so at significantly lower rates."

Mr Walsh, CEO of British Airways' parent company IAG, said: "Passengers paid 3.17bn in APD in 2014/15 - an increase of 824 per cent since its first full year in 1995/96. Over the same period, inflation rose by just 82 per cent. This tax is completely out of control. It is the highest aviation tax in the world and it damages economic growth and jobs. No wonder the Scottish Government wants to abolish it. APD should be scrapped UK wide."


Rail is the Green Way to travel. Yet...

RAIL WORKERS SPEND 1.3M ON FLIGHTS IN JUST
TWO YEARS BECAUSE PLANES ARE CHEAPER
THAN TRAINS AND NOT OVERCROWDED

Hugo Gye - Daily Mail - 28 April 2015

Network Rail has spent 1.3million on domestic flights for its staff in the past two years because flying is frequently cheaper than taking the train. The company, which is responsible for maintaining Britain's train network, claims that staff - including highly paid bosses - always take the cheapest method of transport.

But after a series of above-inflation hikes in the price of train tickets and the continuing rise of budget airlines, flights are now often the most economical way to travel around the UK. But train fares have continued to soar well above inflation in recent years.

Data released under Freedom of Information rules reveal that Network Rail - which is owned and partly funded by the Government - sends its employees on 12 domestic flights every day. Most of these flights are to enable London-based staff to attend meetings in Scotland, according to the company, which claims that these meetings cannot be conducted by Skype.

Since the start of the 2013/14 financial year, Network Rail has spent a total of 1.3million on 8,500 flights within Britain, and another 1.1million on international air travel. A spokesman said that the company spent much more on train travel in the same period - but often the railways can be much more expensive than flying.

For example, the cheapest train ticket from London to Glasgow tomorrow morning is currently listed at 80, while Ryanair is advertising 40 flights to Glasgow from Gatwick or Stansted.

The Network Rail flights data relate to all of the company's 35,000 staff, but highly paid executives have been amongst the biggest spenders. Robin Gisby, who was paid 378,000 as managing director until he resigned this year, took 15 domestic flights worth a total of 2,250 over the past two years.

Chief executive Mark Carne, whose salary is 675,000, has claimed around 600 in expenses for UK flights since starting his role in January 2014. A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Network Rail's 35,000 people have to pay the going rate for all travel, be it air, rail or car. Our people are also obliged to use the cheapest method available, sometimes that means by air - around 650,000 last year - but mostly we travel by rail - almost 16million last year."

Campaigners from the TaxPayers' Alliance criticised the 'unbelievable' statistics, saying they showed that Network Rail is out of touch. Spokesman Andy Silvester told The Sun: "Maybe if they took the train more often, they'd realise how much work they need to do to get our railways up to scratch."

This year average rail fares rose 2.2 per cent, despite inflation running at close to zero, making trains ever more unaffordable for travellers. Fare increases have run above inflation for several years as the Government has sought to increase the proportion of rail funding which is paid for by passengers rather than taxpayers.

Some routes have seen tickets increase in price by 30 per cent over the past five years, according to recent data. At the same time, Network Rail has come under severe criticism after botched engineering works caused chaos on the lines, with huge delays around Christmas and New Year.

And despite ever-increasing fares, a huge number of train routes are routinely overcrowded, with a quarter of peak-time services into London thought to be beyond capacity.


HEATHROW EXPANSION COULD 'BREACH AIR QUALITY RULES'

Phil Davies - travelweeklyonline - 16 April 2015

Any expansion of Heathrow could be delayed for decades due to air quality issues, a new study claims.

The Gatwick-supported report by a global environmental consulting firm found that Heathrow's expansion plan could lead to breaches in EU and UK air quality laws. Should the government approve Heathrow's expansion plans, it would be doing so without any certainty that the UK's legal obligations under the 2008 EU Air Quality Directive and the UK implementing regulations could be met, according to the report by Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and Clear Air Thinking.

A high level of local air pollution was cited as the government's main reason for turning down another runway at Heathrow in 2003. ERM found Heathrow has not provided any evidence that expansion at the airport would not increase nitrogen dioxide - NO2 - levels above legal standards or delay attainment of the limits. Nor has Heathrow included any quantification on how the airport's proposed pollution mitigation measures - including a road congestion charge - would solve this issue, the report suggests.

Congested road traffic flows are a major influence on NO2 emissions and the report points out that construction traffic and major changes to the road network will further reduce the likelihood of compliance.

London has some of worst NO2 spots in Europe. However, Gatwick has never breached EU and UK annual air quality limits and the airport has committed to maintaining this record if it is allowed to build second runway. This can be done as the airport is located in a largely rural, sparsely populated area, and is also used by one of the cleanest aircraft fleets in Europe, Gatwick claims.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: "The UK needs a new runway but the decision about where it should be built must take into account the environmental impact it would have, especially in terms of noise and air quality. The air quality around Heathrow is critical to the airport's development plans - if legal standards cannot be met around Heathrow, then expansion there would be unlawful."

"Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and would still operate within these standards with a second runway. Gatwick's expansion plans strike the right balance between delivering the extra airport capacity, while taking the right steps to protect the environment."

OUR COMMENT: If Gatwick expands areas round the airport will also become contaminated, from traffic and aircraft emissions. Even Stansted, the "airport in the country" has had and will have problems if it expands - especially damage to the nearby ancient and very special Hatfield Forest.

Pat Dale


SSE Recent News
News Archive