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

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2015

The Final Plea?


Mark Tanzer - BuyingBusinessTravel Online - 21 September 2015

Time is running out to influence the government?s decision on whether Heathrow will be allowed to expand, says ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer

MPs have just returned to Westminster and the media is understandably interested in Jeremy Corbyn - to see how the new Labour leader will operate, and what policies Labour will adopt. As MPs and party activists head off to Bournemouth, Brighton, Manchester, and Aberdeen for the annual autumn party conference season, one policy area that will be high on the agenda is airport capacity. A team from ABTA will be attending all of the conferences, putting forward the case for improved UK competitiveness and connectivity in aviation.

At first glance, the political winds do not seem favourable for a speedy and robust decision on airport capacity. Jeremy Corbyn, Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate for London Mayor, and the most likely Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, have all previously declared opposition to a new runway at Heathrow. However, the decision lies with the government, which has promised to respond to the Airports Commission's recommendation by the end of this year. The mood music in Westminster has been shifting since the general election.

Since 2012, ABTA has commissioned the research agency Com Res to ask MPs whether or not they agreed with the statement that "the UK risks being left behind competitively if a comprehensive plan to increase airport capacity is not adopted in the next 12 months". In 2012, 71 per cent of those asked agreed. In 2013 and 2014, the number remained static at seven in ten MPs (70 per cent in 2013, 70 per cent in July 204 and 69 per cent in October 2014).

However, earlier this year, that number rose by 8 percentage points from October 2014 to 77 per cent. This is a significant rise and a clear signal that a growing number of MPs recognise that doing nothing is economically unacceptable. Support for action on airport capacity seems to be growing most quickly on the government's backbenches.

In the 2015 Com Res poll, Conservative MPs are particularly concerned that urgent airport capacity action is needed, with 83 per cent of those asked agreeing with the statement. The number of Tory MPs who agreed in 2012 was only 72 per cent - so this represents a significant rise.

ABTA has been calling for urgent action for years, and some of this urgency seems to now be filtering through to government. The complexity of the decision, the local impacts of expansion, and the political interests of many west London MPs have meant that this important decision has been postponed for too long.

Whilst of course these concerns are important and need to be addressed, aviation has demonstrated its commitment to growing sustainably. ABTA backs the recommendation of the Airports Commission and believes that the government should make the decision to pave the way for getting a third runway built at Heathrow. We initially advocated extra runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick as part of the commission's consultation. We continue to see adequate capacity at both of these airports as essential to future-proof the growing demand for flights in both the business and leisure sectors.

Constraints at our hub airport are particularly acute. The lack of direct routes, particularly to the economically important BRIC nations, runs the risk of causing significant damage to our economy. It would be shameful if business travellers chose to fly from Schiphol, Charles De Gaulle, Frankfurt or Madrid airports simply because their countries' governments, unlike ours, had taken the decision to provide extra capacity well before it was needed.

The window to influence this decision is rapidly closing, and I suspect a decision is all but made. It is very welcome that the government and parliament seem to be aware that further inaction is not acceptable.

The UK's aviation minister Robert Goodwill told ABTA's Travel Matters Conference in June that the government will "take the decision that has been put off for far too long" on airports, while arguing that "too many tough decisions on transport have been delayed or deferred." Let us hope that this was not simply empty rhetoric but rather a clear declaration of intent.

One of the other major arguments for expansion at this time when budgets are under greater scrutiny than ever before, is that unlike other investment in strategically important transport infrastructure, such as HS2, airport expansion does not require a significant injection of taxpayer funds.

Clearly, the government can take comfort from the fact that political consensus is growing behind the delivery of a plan for increased airport capacity and use this as a 3 balance to the strident voices that will undoubtedly oppose any expansion.

OUR COMMENT: As would be expected, the travel business is anxious to increase air travel, ignoring all the other issues which are both nationally and internationally far more important than encouraging us all to fly to our chosen holiday destination - assuming we can afford it!

Pat Dale


Response from the AEF to the Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into the implications for Government Commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise should the Airport Commission's recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow be adopted - 2 September 2015

Executive Summary
* A new runway would have significant impact in terms of climate change, air quality and noise. We urge the Committee to consider in relation to each of these issues both whether the Commission has identified the appropriate benchmark, and whether the mitigations it proposes to achieve that benchmark are realistic. Our own assessment concludes that the Commission's proposed mitigations are neither sufficient nor deliverable.

* In relation to both climate change and air quality for which legal frameworks exist, the Commission has conducted "sensitivity testing" on the basis of which it argues that the impacts can be theoretically mitigated. But it remains for Government to assess what package of policy measures would be required in each case to deliver the required mitigation., and the feasibility and cost of delivering these policies.

* In relation to noise, the Commission proposes a number of mitigations and makes a series of important assumptions. But without a clearer policy or legal steer in terms of acceptable impacts it is a question of judgement whether these mitigations are adequate to limit both health and annoyance effects. It remains for Government therefore both to conduct an assessment of whether the Commission?s modelling and mitigation are realistic and to consider whether the impacts would be acceptable.

* Overall we urge the Committee to recommend that the Government avoid making a premature decision on airport capacity, and to remain open minded until this important work is undertaken.


BusinessTimes Online - 30 September 2015

Heathrow Airport Ltd Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye called for world leaders to accelerate greenhouse gas reductions and push for a mandatory carbon-offset program for the aviation industry to fight climate change.

The head of London's biggest airport signed an open letter also seeking more research into cleaner fuels and better efficiency technology, according to a statement on Wednesday by Heathrow. The letter, released at the Global Sustainable Aviation meeting in Geneva, calls for the International Civil Aviation Organization, the industry regulator, to agree on a new carbon offset market by 2020.

"There's a huge amount we can and are doing, not just around carbon but also more broadly around emissions of nitrogen oxides and around noise," Mr Holland-Kaye said in a phone interview from Geneva.

Mr Holland-Kaye is waiting for the UK government to decide on where to build a new runway in southeast England, after its own Airports Commission in July recommended allowing Heathrow to build a third landing strip. A mandatory carbon offset program would mean any extra greenhouse gases associated with the additional flights would have to be offset, the airport said, an acknowledgment that stricter rules on aviation emissions may make the project more palatable to environmentalists.

Heathrow's expansion is also opposed by local residents and lawmakers within Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling Conservative Party, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, and Zac Goldsmith, who is favorite to be the party's next mayoral candidate. "One of the benefits we will get with expansion of Heathrow is getting rid of stacking," Mr Holland-Kaye said. "While you're circling over west London for 10 minutes, that's creating pollution and waste as well as delays, and a lot of that is driven by the fact we are operating at capacity."

The London hub has committed to reducing emissions from the energy used in its buildings by 34 per cent in the three decades through 2020, and it's phasing electric vans and cars into its fleet of airport vehicles. Mr Holland-Kaye said planes are increasingly being supplied with power from the ground while they're at their stands, rather than from their engines. Electric tugs are also being used to take planes to the runway, or aircraft are taxiing using a single engine, he said.

ICAO has predicted that emissions from international aviation will increase to as much as 755 metric megatons in 2020 from 448 megatons in 2010. Greenhouse gases from aviation make up about 2 percent of the global total, a proportion that's rising as other industries rein in their own emissions.

Envoys from more than 190 nations aim to broker a new global agreement to fight global warming at a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Paris in December. ICAO agreed in 2013 to make recommendations next year on how to set up a market to encourage carbon reductions and offsets by the airlines industry. The market would start in 2020 and cover all nations, a move unprecedented by any industry.

The agency is debating three options for the market: a program whereby airlines could offset their own greenhouse gases through emissions reductions made outside the industry; a variant of that which also includes a revenue-generating fee; and a cap-and-trade system, setting an overall limit on emissions for the industry.


ENDS Europe DAILY - 25 September 2015

A deal on cutting emissions from international aviation needs to avoid carbon credits from "questionable sources", NGOs have warned.

Offset credits from projects destroying industrial gases, and from other sources of "low environmental quality" such as carbon capture and storage, large hydro, nuclear and fossil fuel projects, must be excluded from a new market-based mechanism, NGO coalition promoting green aviation ICSA said on Friday.

An environmentally sound market mechanism should initially cap net total carbon emissions of international aviation at 2020 levels, the NGOs said. It should avoid double counting emissions units and only recognise sustainable biofuels achieving real emissions reductions, they added.

ICSA called for a draft of the global market-based measure for cutting emissions from international aviation beyond 2020 to be published before the Paris climate conference in December. The UN-aviation body, ICAO, has been developing the new mechanism since 2013.

The European Parliament's environment committee also called for new measures to cut emissions in both the aviation and shipping sectors before the end of 2016 on Wednesday. A high level of transparency should also be achieved through accurate flight-by-flight emissions monitoring, reporting and verification, ICSA said.

The aviation industry is holding its annual green aviation meeting next week in Geneva. ICSA said this is the "last opportunity, pre-Paris COP, to demonstrate that [the ICAO] is working for a scheme that has high environmental integrity".


Michael Savage and Laura Pitel - The Times - 19 September 2015

Labour has dropped its support for a third runway at Heathrow in a move that risks another split among Jeremy Corbyn's new shadow cabinet.

The party had backed the recommendation in the summer by Sir Howard Davies, provided noise and air pollution conditions were met. The move had wrong-footed David Cameron, who faces a split over the issue within his party and is yet to rule on whether to back Heathrow expansion. Lilian Greenwood, the shadow transport secretary, said that she had an open mind over whether the third runway should be supported, with Mr Corbyn known to be strongly against the plan. "I want to look at all the evidence in more depth," she said.

"We've got a new leadership team, I'm new to the shadow secretary of state role, and I want to look at it myself. And I want to have discussions with colleagues. It's no secret that there are differences of opinion on this issue in the Labour party, as indeed there are on the Conservative benches."

The decision to row back on the third runway proposals came as Labour also signalled a curb on the freedoms of academies and free schools, warning that they should be under local control. Lucy Powell, the shadow education secretary, said that she would hand more power over the schools to councils and local mayors - a major reversal of Blairite policy. The move will depress Blairites, as the academy programme was drawn up and pioneered by Lord Adonis, the New Labour minister. The decisions are the latest signs that Labour policies are being redrawn after Mr Corbyn's leadership win.

As well as Mr Corbyn, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Diane Abbott, the shadow international development secretary, are all strongly opposed to a third runway. Michael Dugher, the former shadow transport secretary said to be keen on backing Heathrow expansion, is now shadow culture secretary.

At the end of a chaotic first week of his leadership, Mr Corbyn was warned by Alistair Darling, the former chancellor, that his leadership could fail to "get off the ground" unless he set out his policies. "What I would say to him is he must know first impressions gained by the electorate, especially of a party leader, tend not to go away," he told Radio 4?s Today programme. "Less than a week after he's been elected, he needs to spell out where he stands on key issues like the economy."

Mr Corbyn finally announced his full frontbench team yesterday, placing key supporters in the Treasury as he prepares to draw up an anti-austerity package. He suffered a blow as his equalities spokeswoman, Kate Green, rejected his idea of female-only train carriages to protect women from sexual assaults.


Herts & Essex Observer - 9 September 2015

The West Anglia Taskforce, charged with championing vital improvements for rail links between London, Stansted Airport and Cambridge, holds its first meeting today (Wednesday).

The forum in the House of Commons, chaired by Uttlesford's MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, follows its inception earlier this year as part of Chancellor George Osborne and London mayor Boris Johnson's long-term economic plans. It will build on evidence already presented by Transport for London (TfL) and the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC) and submitted to Network Rail in June about the line, which runs through Sawbridgeworth, Stortford, Stansted, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End and Great Chesterford stations.

The taskforce will assess how rail connections to Stansted Airport and Cambridge from Liverpool Street and Stratford can be improved. The aim is to spur the delivery of thousands of new homes and jobs, as well as support aspirations for the corridor to become a focus for technology and bioscience-led economic growth in the "golden triangle" of London, Cambridge and Oxford.

Every day 71,000 people commute into London from the rest of the corridor. Improvements would also enable Stansted Airport to grow to its planned capacity and stimulate investment and development in an area of Greater London with "huge untapped potential".

Airport managing director Andrew Harrison said: "MAG (Manchester Airports Group) has long called for a sustained programme of investment in the West Anglia line and we welcome the creation of the Taskforce as the first step in bringing the corridor's ambitions to reality. It is vital the Taskforce creates a robust blueprint for investment. This needs to be focused on affordable and deliverable outcomes that deliver faster services, increased capacity and improved reliability for all passengers on the railway between London, Stansted and Cambridge, with an urgent need to look at short-term improvements and long-term solutions."

Currently, services on the West Anglia Main Line (WAML) are severely hampered between Coppermill Junction (just south of Tottenham Hale) and Broxbourne Junction because this section of line consists of only two tracks. Introducing a further two tracks - four-tracking - could deliver an extra four trains an hour to some stops, increasing capacity on some parts of the corridor by 50 per cent and taking up to seven minutes off journey times from Cambridge to London, as well as improving the reliability of the route.

Four-tracking would also pave the way for Crossrail 2, a proposed new railway serving London and the wider South East which would allow up to 30 trains an hour in each direction to cross central London and connect into the region's existing transport network. Crossrail 2 could unlock up to 70,000 new homes and more than 20,000 new jobs in the WAML corridor alone. The early delivery of four-tracking will ensure that this growth can be kick-started ahead of Crossrail 2 opening in 2030.

Mr Johnson said: "We know that substantial investment into the West Anglia Main Line has great potential to unleash economic growth in London and beyond. Four-tracking of this line will also be a hugely important precursor to the delivery of Crossrail 2, allowing us to reap many of the benefits that this brand new railway will bring much more quickly. With faster journey times, thousands of new homes and jobs, as well as better connections between London, Stansted and Cambridge, it's a no-brainer. The West Anglia Taskforce is now set to champion that argument and build the business case for a project that has clear benefits for London and for UK plc."

Rail minister Claire Perry said: "We have ambitious plans for East Anglia's rail network as part of our long-term economic plan, and the West Anglia Main Line is a key part of that. I'm pleased that a taskforce is looking at the long-term potential to make journeys better for rail customers on the line and I look forward to hearing its findings in due course."

Sir Alan said: "I am very pleased to have been given a key role in the West Anglia Taskforce and I look forward to working with everyone who is on board. At last there is to be a focused, in-depth study of a key transport corridor serving a major growth area of the country." It is expected that the taskforce will report its initial findings to the Government and Network Rail next summer.

There's Magic in the Air!


Heathrow Media Centre - 4 September 2015

Heathrow's plan "doesn't force a choice between the environment and the economy - it will deliver for both"

Heathrow has set out how its plans for expansion are compatible with carbon emissions targets, air quality limits and will result in fewer people being affected by noise than today.

The Environmental Audit Committee is conducting an inquiry into the implications for Government commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise should the Airports Commission's recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow Airport be adopted. Responding to the consultation, Heathrow illustrated how an improved runway design from that rejected in 2010 maximises the level of respite that can be provided to local communities, whilst reducing the number of people affected by significant noise by at least 200,000. The plans also ensure there are no more airport-related vehicles on the road than there are today - helping to make sure that air quality limits are not exceeded.

It?s an approach which has been endorsed by the independent Airports Commission, who unanimously concluded in July this year that a third runway should be built at Heathrow. On carbon emissions, the Commission confirmed that Heathrow was compatible with the government's target of 37.5MtCO2 emissions from aviation by 2050, and that: "Heathrow's location and its much greater public transport connectivity (both locally and to the country as a whole) makes it the most efficient location in terms of carbon emissions due to surface access."

On noise, the Commission found that an expanded Heathrow can be better than today, and that "a bigger Heathrow would not inflict more noise nuisance on more people than it does today." The Airports Commission also confirmed that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within air quality limits, whilst Heathrow is confident that it can deliver emissions reductions targets surpassing the conservative calculations prepared by the Commission.

Taken in total, the measures mean that Heathrow's plan is fair and deliverable, balancing the airport's critical role in helping British businesses compete for global growth and supporting a recovery built on exports, skills and investment, with the concerns of those living nearby.

It will also give the airport the ability to act as a catalyst for environmental innovation, fast tracking research and development. Heathrow already hosts the world's largest single site car sharing scheme, has the UK's only free airport public transport travel zone and the UK's first publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling site.

Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability, said: "This is a plan which doesn't force a choice between the environment and the economy - it will deliver for both. We have gone back to the drawing board, designed an improved approach and put forward a proposal for expansion unanimously recommended by the Airports Commission. A bigger Heathrow will be a better Heathrow for our local communities, compatible with carbon emissions targets, air quality limits and with fewer people impacted by noise than today."

OUR COMMENT: A very misleading heading. The proposals appear only to claim that noise, air quality and carbon dioxide levels will be no worse than today! Has management forgotten that environmental health standards are being exceeded now and have been for many years in the past?

Pat Dale


ENDS Europe - 7 September 2015

The current rate of improvements in aviation fuel efficiency suggests that the industry will miss its 2020 targets by 12 years, according to a think tank.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) identified an average annual energy efficiency improvement of 1.1% for new aircrafts. This falls short of the 2% average fuel efficiency improvement target set by the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2010.

ICAO also set a target of 40% fuel efficiency improvements for new aircraft in 2020 and 90% in 2030 compared to a 2000 technology baseline. The ICCT does not expect either of these to be met.

The authors said that the technological improvements needed to meet the target should be spurred by a CO2 certification standard for new aircraft.

Progress at ICAO on developing such a standard has been slow, as has work on a global market-based measure to price carbon. The measures are likely to be agreed next year, but they will not come into effect until 2020.

The ICCT study updates one from 2009 which showed there had been little improvement in aviation fuel efficiency over the preceding decade. The study also indicated that spikes in fuel efficiency are strongly linked to fuel price. Green group T&E said that this confirms the needs to agree a global market-based measure driving fuel prices up to encourage greater fuel efficiency.


ITV News Anglia - 2 September 2015

Stansted Airport is consulting people living under the flight-path on a new take-off procedure which could reduce the effects of aircraft noise.

The airport's management want to know what people think of the 'Performance Based Navigation' technology, which uses GPS to allow planes taking off to keep to their flight paths more accurately.

Results from a trial on two of Stansted's existing departure routes (Clacton 22 and Detling 04) apparently show that 85% fewer people are directly overflown by aircraft using the new procedure.

The airport has been working on the initiative with its consultative committee (STACC), easyJet and NATS (air traffic provider) for more than two years. It is now seeking views from the local community to help shape its final proposal before submitting it to the Civil Aviation Authority for approval.

"We feel the noise and environmental benefits from this project are considerable and urge our local communities to look at the achievements and facts provided in the consultation materials and make their responses accordingly." Keith Artus (STACC)

Luton Airport has also just started trialling the technology. From this month flights leaving the Bedfordshire airport and heading west will be guided by Area Navigation Technology, known as ARNAV, which draws flights away from more densely populated areas.


Jessica Duncan - onemk online - 21 August 2015

London Luton Airport (LLA) has introduced Area Navigation (RNAV1) technology for departing flights leaving the airport along the Match/Detling flight routes used during westerly operations; helping to draw aircraft away from densely populated areas.

The introduction follows approval of the airport's 'Airspace Change Proposal' by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) earlier this year which was made possible thanks to the positive engagement from Air Navigation Service Provider, NATS, airlines and local stakeholders and community groups.

RNAV1 uses GPS type technology enabling aircraft to fly routes more precisely, drawing aircraft away from densely populated areas, reducing noise disturbance and cutting emissions. Trials carried out from March to June 2013 found that the introduction of RNAV technology reduced the number of people over flown by 79 per cent and will lead to annual savings of 290 tonnes of fuel and 885 tonnes of CO2.

Neil Thompson, operations director of LLA, said: "The introduction of RNAV1 is a great achievement; for over 10 years we have been working with airlines, NATS and the CAA to look at ways track-keeping can be improved to help reduce the number of people over flown. The plan now, working with our neighbours, is to secure approval from the regulator, the CAA, to deploy the same GPS technology on the remaining arrival and departure routes at LLA."

Neil MacArthur, of local community group Harpenden Sky, commented: "On behalf of the HarpendenSky.com membership, and those other Harpenden west, south and central residents affected by Luton departing aircraft, we want to sincerely thank London Luton Airport for the understanding and effort that has been put into RNAV1 as a resolution of this issue."

Gavin Shuker, MP for Luton South added; "London Luton is setting the standard for airport noise management in the UK. As part of its £100 million development programme the airport will adopt some of the most stringent noise controls in the country. Working closely with community groups the airport is also putting in place additional voluntary measures to address local concerns such as RNAV1. These are positive steps in balancing the need of local residents and boosting the economy which a growing airport will deliver."


Herts & Essex Observer - 2 September 2015

A new take-off procedure is set to reduce the effects of airport noise for more than 4,000 people living around Stansted.

Bosses claim "innovative" performance based navigation uses modern Global Positioning System (GPS) technology that enables aircraft to fly flight paths more accurately when taking off. Results from a trial on two of the airport's existing departure routes - Clacton 22 and Detling 04 - show that 85 per cent fewer people are directly overflown by aircraft using the new procedure.

The airport has been working on the initiative with its consultative committee (STACC), easyJet and NATS (air traffic provider) for over two years. It is now seeking views from the local community to help shape its final proposal before submitting it to the Civil Aviation Authority for approval.

Andrew Harrison, Stansted Airport's managing director, said: "I would like to especially thank all those in the community who helped us shape this project, particularly members of our independent monitoring body, the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee and its environmental sub-group. It is by working together that we can achieve the best results, and we all look forward to hearing the feedback from the community about this innovative project which demonstrates significant and positive improvements for local residents around the airport."

Uttlesford District Cllr Keith Artus, chairman of the Environmental Issues Group (EIG) of STACC, said: "The EIG works in tandem with the airport on all environmental matters, which includes working on initiatives to improve the effects of aircraft noise on the communities that surround the airport. We feel the noise and environmental benefits from this project are considerable and urge our local communities to look at the achievements and facts provided in the consultation materials and make their responses accordingly."

The consultation runs for 12 weeks until November 27. Find out more and take part by visiting the airport's website.


The Economist - 22 August 2015

DUTY-FREE shopping at the airport used to be something most Britons liked as it saved them money. Yet airports are now exploiting their captive market - those trapped between security and the boarding gates - to lure people to spend as much as possible in shops. And in a scam publicised this month, they turn out to be ripping their customers off as well.

Rather than passing the 20% saved in VAT to shoppers with a boarding card to somewhere outside the European Union, many airport retailers have been charging the same price for all and pocketing the tax rebate themselves. The revelation prompted a public backlash, with many people refusing to show boarding cards at the cash till. David Gauke, a treasury minister, declared that the VAT rebate should be passed to consumers, not kept by airport concessions.

Dual pricing for EU and non-EU travellers could be introduced to ensure this, but retailers and airports are resisting the idea. Instead they are trying to rake in ever more from their passengers. Many airports now charge for services that used to be free, or have invented new ones, to boost revenues. No fewer than 18 of Britain?s 24 busiest airports now charge drivers to drop off passengers at their terminals. Before 2009, none did.

Luton airport, the first to introduce so-called "kiss and drop" fees, has taken this no-frills model to extremes. There, it costs a minimum of £2.50 ($3.90) to drop off passengers outside the terminal, £2 to hire a baggage trolley, £1 to weigh each bag, £5 to skip the security queue, and up to £20 to have luggage wrapped before travel. Similar charges are being introduced elsewhere: Blackpool airport has even introduced a compulsory £10 check-in charge.

Airports are becoming ever more dependent on such fees, as well as on rent from retailers. A decade ago, many airports made 55% or more of their turnover from "traffic income" - charges paid by airlines for using their runways and terminals. But that figure is falling; it is as low as 45% at Luton, for instance. Airports want to boost their revenues from retailers even more. Heathrow, Luton and Stansted airports, for instance, are all rebuilding their terminals to expand the area for shops and to make passengers walk through them.

Stiffer competition between airports has forced them to pass more costs onto passengers and retailers. In 2009 BAA, an airports operator with a 60% market share in Britain, was broken up. With more airport operators now in the market, airlines are using the threat of defecting to a rival to negotiate down the traffic fees they pay. EasyJet, a no-frills operator, threatened to leave Luton in 2009 when it raised charges by 25%. Ryanair played a similar trick at Stansted in 2013 to help it win a better deal. Since more than half the flights at these airports are run by these two airlines, the airports were in a weak position. To make up for lost revenues, both airports have increased passenger charges as well as raising retail rents.

And it is no longer just the no-frills carriers that are pressing for lower fees. In July Willie Walsh, boss of IAG (which includes British Airways), said he would no longer support Heathrow's plans to build a third runway if BA, Heathrow's biggest customer, were made to finance the cost of such expansion. "We will not be paying for it", he said bluntly. But somebody must. With carriers getting restless, travellers may just have to get used to bearing more such costs themselves.


Report from Briefings, AEF - 17 August 2015

The Airports Commission has claimed and the media has uncritically repeated, that a new runway at Heathrow would deliver 'up to £147 billion' benefit for the UK. But this figure is based on analysis that takes no account of the environmental or surface access costs of expansion.

Indeed, the Commission's own specialist economic advisers have criticised the analysis for double counting and questionable assumptions in relation to the indirect benefits associated with increased seat capacity.

The results generated by using the Government's methodology for cost benefit analysis meanwhile, are dramatically different: the Commission's own figures, based on this methodology, suggest that building a third runway at Heathrow would result in a net £9 billion loss to the UK once all environmental and surface access costs are included. With some 'wider economic benefits' included, the benefit over sixty years would still be only £1.4 billion, as quoted in the Commission's final report.

In our briefing on the economic impacts of airport expansion, available to download below, we look at how the Commission has presented its analysis of the costs and benefits of a new runway. We have also published our assessment of whether the Airports Commission addressed our earlier concerns regarding a 'carbon gap' in the Commission's analysis.

The Airports Commission's economic fudge: How the economic case for expansion dissolves once climate change limits are accounted for. See our case here.

Do You Agree?


Harlow Star - 1 July 2015

The leader of Essex County Council Cllr David Finch believes a second runway after 2030 at Stansted Airport may be an "inevitable" option.

"We support Stansted owner's ambitions to introduce greater destinations and long-haul flights, and we believe Stansted should be an important airport of trade and commerce as well as for short breaks and holidays. Sensible growth at Stansted can benefit the UK and the Essex economy," said Cllr Finch. "Stansted Airport is one of the many factors that make Essex the place to be and one of the many factors why Essex Means Business."

Cllr Finch's Stansted second runway prediction related to long-term growth, post 2030, but in the short to medium term he called on the Government to act on the recommendations of the Airport Commission report to build a third runway at Heathrow first.

Cllr Finch said: "We hope the Government doesn't kick this report into the long grass. We have always said that UK plc cannot sit on this issue forever. We believe a third runway at Heathrow is the most viable option now. It's affordable, practical and consolidates Heathrow's position as the UK's central airport."

The county also supports "sensible growth" at Stansted in the short to medium term - but is calling for rail connections to the airport to be improved. In the 12 months from May 2014, airport passenger numbers grew by 3.8m passengers per annum.

While Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) admitted it was relieved Sir Howard Davies' recommendations did not include immediate building at Stansted, the campaign group questioned the need for any new runways at all. It argued the aviation industry had exaggerated demand, claiming business travel has been declining for 15 years and now accounted for less than a sixth of all international travel from UK airports. Moreover, the total number of flights (business and leisure) from UK airports has grown less than one per cent over the past 15 years.

SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: "Ten years ago Stansted was first in the queue for a new runway to serve London. Today's report marks a remarkable turnaround and that must come as a great relief to our local community. There is no doubt that the commission has examined the issues conscientiously and in painstaking detail but... we disagree with many aspects of the report."

"It looks as if it will be the end of this year before the Government makes its final decisions, and having regard to the likelihood of legal challenges, there may well be a longer period of uncertainty. Whatever the timescale, SSE will continue to play a full part in the debate for as long as it takes to ensure that no-one is allowed to ride roughshod over the interests of this local community."


Nicholas Cecil - Evening Standard - 27 July 2015

More Britons support building a new airport to meet the country's aviation needs than favour expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick, a poll shows.

The new findings, in an Ipsos MORI survey for the Standard, will revive the debate about Boris Johnson's proposals for a Thames Estuary airport, just as the Government appears set to back a third runway at Heathrow.

Thirty per cent of those who believe the UK needs more aviation capacity favoured an entirely new site, compared to 24 per cent who backed a second runway at Gatwick and 22 per cent who preferred a bigger Heathrow. A third of all respondents said they did not believe Britain's airport capacity should be increased.

By far the biggest concern over expansion was the impact on the natural environment. Thirty-nine per cent named this as one of the most important issues the Government should consider when deciding on where to locate a new runway. How much noise such a development would create for local residents was cited by 30 per cent. This was double the figure for generating jobs and economic growth.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: "Most Britons want our airport capacity increased, but there is no clear consensus on the best solution. At the moment, though, the public's view is dominated by issues of environmental impact and noise rather than jobs or cost."

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, has recommended a third runway at Heathrow, rather than expanding Gatwick, having earlier dismissed the proposal for a "Boris island" airport in the estuary. Sir Howard - the new Royal Bank of Scotland chairman - concluded that the economic benefits of a bigger Heathrow outweighed the environmental impacts, when compared to a second runway at Gatwick. But critics argue that Heathrow cannot expand while also meeting EU air pollution limits, and say this part of the commission's report is flawed.

The commission concluded a third runway could be built and operated provided it did not delay London complying with the EU air quality rules. As long as one area of the capital had even more filthy air than Heathrow, then another runway could not be blamed for a delay, it argued. But this stance could be challenged in court, and the Government has been warned of the risks of pressing ahead with Heathrow expansion on the basis of the commission's conclusions on air quality.

"People are quite rightly aghast at the environmentally catastrophic expansion of Heathrow, and realise that increasing capacity at Gatwick will fail to deliver the long-term capacity and economic benefit that we need," said Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London's chief adviser on aviation.

The Government has pledged to make a decision on airport expansion by the end of the year.

Heathrow's case appeared to have been bolstered last week, after it emerged that Mr Cameron had set up a committee to decide on the issue which did not include five Cabinet ministers who have previously voiced opposition to a third runway. Downing Street said the committee's make-up followed usual procedures, with ministers included from the departments with the greatest policy interest.


Salina Patel - Getwestlondon Online - 28 July 2015

More than 30 west London politicians and anti-airport expansion group leaders signed a letter to the PM over air pollution following Davies' recommendation to expand at Heathrow.

Following the Airport Commissions report, Sir Howards Davies' recommendation has raised concerns largely over air pollution at Heathrow where it is already above the legal limit. The group also believe that the issue has not been taken seriously by the Commission and are concerned the recommendation has been made from the results of a flawed consultation which gave people limited days to reply, and therefore have called on David Cameron to reopen the consultation process.

Among the 30 signatures are council leaders including Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot; Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council; MP for Brentford & Isleworth Ruth Cadbury; MP for Twickenham Tania Mathias; MP for Hayes & Harlington John McDonnell; MP for Harrow East Bob Blackman; and MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter; along with Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett; John Stewart, chairman of HACAN; and London Assembly Group members Caroline Pidgeon and Stephen Knight.

The letter states: "Given the Commission timetable and the fact their main 350-page report was published just a month after the air quality consultation ended, it is clear that the Commission effectively regarded it as a tick box exercise and one that was immaterial to the overall report. It is hard to see how a third runway with millions more car and lorry journeys to the airport will improve air quality around west London. It will obviously make it worse. In doing so it will also raise the legal bar for expansion ever getting the green light."

There are concerns history will repeat itself following the last government's approval of a third runway in 2009, which was granted conditionally on the basis of improvements to air quality around the airport using cleaner technologies to bring about rapid improvement which have proved wrong.

The letter concludes: "In our view this issue is too important simply to wish away. Either the consultation process should be reopened so the views of the millions of people potentially affected can be properly considered or - preferably - the government should rule out expansion at Heathrow given the huge environmental and health impacts it would cause."


Stephen Greenhalgh - Cityam Online - 4 August 2015

Stephen Greenhalgh is the current deputy London mayor for policing and crime. He is standing as a Conservative candidate for the 2016 mayoral election.

Last week big business was on the march with 57 senior business leaders signing a letter urging the Prime Minister to give a third runway to Heathrow. This follows on neatly from the Davies Commission - a £20m report that has taken three years to recommend political suicide.

The challenge for a future mayor of London is to support a long-term solution to airport expansion that can be delivered politically. Mayoral politics is the art of the possible. Expansion of Heathrow is politically undeliverable and a Gatwick second runway only offers a sticking plaster solution. It is time to campaign for a bold vision that is politically possible.

But we have a conundrum - London needs a hub airport and yet expansion at any of the existing sites can never deliver one on a single site. Currently London effectively has one large airport (Heathrow), one medium airport (Gatwick) and two smaller airports (Stansted and Luton). Each one has a different role and the reality is that the lucrative fast-growing business traffic which is increasingly crowded out of Heathrow will never beat a path to Gatwick. Nor will it go to Stansted, despite its existing surplus capacity.

This fact alone suggests that expansion at Gatwick or Stansted is not, and can never be, the right answer to delivering more air capacity in the London area. Similarly expansion of Heathrow is politically a non-starter, whatever angle the deliberations of the Davies' Commission can seek to put on it.

London is arranged linearly along the Thames and as such any additional airport capacity needs to be located on this axis rather than on one of the other compromised spokes out northwards and southwards. That leaves only the eastern end around the estuary.

However rather than seek to flip all the airport capacity from Heathrow to a new eastern hub, an alternative approach would be to start to lay the groundwork in a rather more modest way. There can still be a plan for an eventual multi-runway hub airport but initially let's go about it more modestly with one runway, start to construct the road and rail connections and build up all the other infrastructure.

It is unrealistic to expect central government to fund a four-runway hub airport in one go as Boris Johnson is pushing for. My approach would not result in a 'big bang' that could see the end of Heathrow. Heathrow is far too important economically with its thousands of jobs to be closed and under this plan it would continue as now - although its role would inevitably diminish and shift as the eastern airport expanded.

I am heavily influenced by the thinking of Patrick Ground who, as a planning QC, represented the Greater London Council at the terminal five phase of the Heathrow Inquiry. Patrick was also the Conservative MP for Feltham & Heston from 1983-1992.

The livelihood of many of his constituents depended on Heathrow. Heathrow should not be closed but must not get any bigger. Heathrow should start to behave in an environmentally friendly way in the best tradition of airports globally. All night flights should be banned as Davies recommends and there should be a cap on the number of movements.

But we should go further: Heathrow should become better not bigger. We do not want mixed mode solutions but strict maintenance of the Cranford Agreement, which limits take offs over Cranford. This avoids noisy take offs on the northern runway when the wind is blowing from an easterly direction.

As mayor I will push to build up an estuary airport in phases that will boost the huge regeneration potential along the Thames Estuary, so London continues to have a Heathrow in the West and, in time, another hub airport in the East.

NOTE: City A.M.'s Opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking opinions and views. These are not necessarily shared by City A.M.


Michael Holder - Airqualitynews Online - 27 July 2015

Air pollution emissions from civil aircraft could be responsible for the premature deaths of 16,000 people around the world every year, with an economic cost of up to £13.5 billion, according to a US study. The study looked at aircraft emissions at 968 airports around the world.

Based on 2006 levels of ozone and particulate matter PM2.5 emissions from aircraft, the study - published in volume 10 of the journal Environmental Research Letters - calculated the number of premature deaths using local air quality dispersion modelling from 968 airports around the world, alongside and population density data. It found that the majority (87%) of the calculated 16,000 deaths per year from aviation emissions were attributable specifically to PM2.5.

And, of the approximate US$21 billion (£13.5 billion) global economic cost estimated from these deaths, the study found the highest cost was in Europe at more than US$9 billion (£5.8 billion).

Authors of the study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claim the work is the first to analyse air quality and human health impacts of aviation at three different scales - local level (less than 1km from airport), near-airport level (less than 10km) and global (up to 10,000km from source).

This is because, according to the study, aviation emissions impact surface air quality "at multiple scales - from near-airport pollution peaks associated with airport landing and take-off emissions, to intercontinental pollution attributable to aircraft cruise emissions". However, the study found that around a quarter (roughly 4,000) of the overall estimated deaths could be linked to emissions from aircraft landing and take-off.

Study authors also said the societal costs of aviation air pollution "are on the same order of magnitude as global aviation-attributable climate costs, and one order of magnitude larger than aviation-attributable accident and noise costs".

The number of air passengers is set to increase over the coming two decades, and the study comes as the UK government considers a controversial recommendation that a third runway is built at Heathrow to increase capacity ? a recommendation which is at odds with the views of air quality campaigners.


Robert Lea, Industrial Editor - The Times - 23 July 2015

Manchester airport reported traffic growth up 7 per cent last year

Britain's most important airport operator outside Heathrow and Gatwick has urged the government to formulate a 25-year aviation policy on when it expects Stansted to have to a build a new runway. Manchester Airports Group, which owns London's fast-growing third airport, also wants decisions about how Manchester could become the hub for the so-called northern powerhouse.

Irrespective of whether the prime minister chooses Heathrow or Gatwick as the airport to get statutory backing for expansion, others need to know whether they can invest in runways in the future, too, it said yesterday. "We have no long-term aviation policy, decisions are made ad hoc," Charlie Cornish, the chief executive of MAG, said. "Aviation infrastructure is expensive and unless we have a 25-year policy, you are putting too much risk on private sector operators wishing to invest."

With Heathrow at its capacity and Gatwick full at peak times, both of MAG's primary airports - Manchester and Stansted - are showing the strength of air travel demand. For the 12 months to the end of March, Manchester, Britain's third-busiest airport, reported traffic growth up 7 per cent to 22.3 million passengers. Coming back from a collapse in passenger numbers during the downturn, during which it slipped behind Manchester, Stansted's traffic soared by 16 per cent in the year to 20.9 million.

Together, the two airports put on more passenger volumes, a total of 4.3 million, than Heathrow and Gatwick combined and helped to send MAG's underlying operating profits before tax and other charges 17 per cent higher to £283 million in the year. MAG's shareholders are being paid a £93 million dividend for the year, including £60 million for the ratepayers of Manchester.

MAG is 35.5 per cent-owned by Manchester city council, with a further 29 per cent in the hands of the nine boroughs that make up Greater Manchester. The other 35.5 per cent is controlled by IFM Investors, an infrastructure investor owned by an Australian pensions fund that was the driving force behind the £1.5 billion acquisition of Stansted two and half years ago.

Of MAG's other airports, East Midlands, Britain's busiest freight airport after Heathrow, reported a 7 per cent growth in passengers to 4.6 million. Bournemouth did not increase its passenger numbers, which were stuck at 700,000.

MAG's investment focus is already moving abroad. It has captured its first airport-related contract in the United States - albeit a small one - running a lounge at Minneapolis. It is in the bidding for other contracts at Oakland in California and at Denver.

Sir Adrian Montague, MAG's chairman said of airport expansion: "After the Davies commission spent two and half years, a huge amount of time, we have an authoritative report with the clearest of conclusions, clearer than we might have expected." Asked to comment on why the government did not immediately embrace the Davies recommendation to build a third runway at Heathrow, he said: "It is entirely right that the government takes its time." A decision on airport expansion is not expected until the end of the year.

Taking off
£738m Annual revenues across MAG's four airports
48m Number of passengers handled annually by MAG airports
270 Number of destinations that directly connect with MAG airports


Dave Paramore - Heart Online - 23 July 2015

The Managing Director of Stansted Airport says the next few months are "critical" to getting improved rail services to and from there.

Andrew Harrison wants faster and more frequent services to and from the Essex terminal from places like London, particularly early in the morning and late and night. He told Heart: "Investment in rail happens in five year cycles. The new rail plan for the five years starting from 2019 will be announced in September so it's really critical that we, as a community, are able to make the case for improved rail connectivity and Government listens to get it into that plan."

"We need to make sure people can get away from here last thing at night after the last flight, and also get here first thing in the morning. Equally importantly, we need to ensure any improvements top those services don't come at the detriment to the commuter. It's really, really important that the airport and the commuter community are able to come together to get a better service for the whole region."

Mr Harrison says improved rail links and infrastructure are important for the future growth of the airport.

His comments come after Stansted's parent company, Manchester Airports Group, announced its full-year financial results yesterday, showing the airport had increased passenger numbers by nearly three million last year and increased revenue by more than 10 percent to more than £270 million.


Angela Singer - Dunmow Broadcast - 2 July 2015

The banning of night flights at Heathrow, suggested by the Davies Commission which has recommended a third runway at Heathrow rather than a second one at Stansted could still have "sinister" implications for the Essex airport, says Saffron Walden MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst.

The report on the future of UK airports, led by Sir Howard Davies has taken five people three years and cost £20million. It has ruled out a second runway for Stansted even though all parties, including the commission, agree that the existing runway at Stansted will be full in 15 years.

After The Davies Commission reported yesterday (Wednesday), Sir Alan said: "I?m on alert". He told the Reporter: "I understand that Sir Howard has suggested ending night flights at Heathrow. That has sinister implications. If they are not there, they will have to go somewhere. I don?t want to see the transfer of night flights to Stansted."

He added: "We have the likes of FedEx and UPS. They are a very important industry. You can have a package from across the world delivered by 10am the following morning but that involves flights at unsocial hours. The dominant players at Stansted are RyanAir and EasyJet and the reason they can offer cheap flights is that they have continuous usage. Planes don't make money while they are standing on the ground."

Stansted bosses and Essex County Council have both called for better rail links to the terminus. Andrew Harrison, managing director of Stansted Airport, said: "The Government must act now and invest in a world-class rail link. This will enable the airport to play a crucial role in the UK economy. Heathrow and Gatwick are already full but Stansted can accommodate an extra 20-25million passengers a year on its runway, so it's essential to unlock its full potential."

The Leader of Essex County Council, David Finch has called for the Government to act on Davies Report's recommendations. Councillor Finch said: "We believe a third runway at Heathrow is the most viable option. It's affordable, practical and consolidates Heathrow's position as the UK's central airport."

The suggestion of an island airport in the Thames has been dismissed by Essex County Council a "flight of fancy", as has a second runway at Stansted. Though the council concedes that may be inevitable after 2030, when Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and the Davies Commission both say the existing runway will be full.


Herts & Essex Observer - 5 July 2015

Cabinet minister Robert Halfon has supported strengthening the existing capacity at Stansted Airport.

The Harlow MP, whose constituency also includes Matching and Sheering, pledged to press for improved rail links to Essex as part of The Government's plans for aviation expansion in the South East.

Responding to the Davies Commission, the Conservative who is a minister without portfolio in David Cameron's cabinet, said: "I'm glad that the recommendation does not call for a second runway at Stansted, but instead supports strengthening the existing capacity of the airport. I also welcome the recognition of investment by the Manchester Airports Group. With over 17m people using Stansted every year, strengthening the existing capacity at Stansted is vital to ensure a better service for everyone."

The report also acknowledges "the renewed focus on the needs of airport users travelling by rail to Stansted, and to Southend, in the consultation on the West Anglia Route Study" as part of a wider £80 million investment in Stansted Airport and Mr Halfon said he would urge the government to act.

He said: "Stansted is the third busiest airport in London and the fourth busiest in the UK, contributing over £400 million a year to the UK economy. I welcome any extra investment into Stansted and I pay tribute to the ongoing work that Manchester Airports Group are doing in making the case for a better Stansted."

When the recommendation were released Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "My department has received the final report from the Airports Commission and will now consider that advice in detail. As a nation we must be ambitious and forward looking. This is a once in a generation opportunity to answer a vital question."

OUR COMMENT: Harlow residents might not agree! More planes, more noise over Harlow and more traffic too.

Pat Dale


BBC Online - 1 July 2015

The Airports Commission has backed a third Heathrow runway, saying it will add £147bn in economic growth and 70,000 jobs by 2050. It would also connect Britain to over 40 new destinations around the world.

Sir Howard Davies's report said that the new runway should come with severe restrictions to reduce the environmental and noise effects.

Night flights should be banned and the government should make a Parliamentary pledge not to build a fourth runway. It also recommends an aviation noise levy to fund insulation for homes and schools, and a legal commitment should be made on air quality.

Sir Howard said that a second runway at Gatwick was a "credible" option but was less able to provide connections to long-haul destinations and would create lower levels of economic growth.

A third option for extending the present runways at Heathrow was rejected.

Sir Howard said that the recommendation for a new runway to the north of the present airport was "clear and unanimous". "The best answer is to expand Heathrow's capacity through a new north-west runway," Sir Howard said. "Heathrow is best placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets. It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers and the broader economy."

"Adding capacity at Heathrow also provides an opportunity to change the airport's relationship with its local communities. To make expansion possible the Commission recommends a comprehensive package of measures including a ban on night flights and a new noise levy to fund a far stronger and more generous set of compensation and mitigation schemes."

Noise levels
The Commission admits that expanding Heathrow would mean many more people affected by noise compared to expanding Gatwick. But it claims that quieter aircraft and home insulation would mean that overall noise levels would fall for people living near the airport by 2030. Nearly 800 homes would have to be demolished to build the new runway which would cost ĘG17.6bn to deliver. Road and rail links around the airport would also have to be substantially changed, which could cost up to £5bn.

A second runway at Gatwick would cost just over £7bn. The Commission believes that both schemes would be funded by private finance.

Environmental groups, resident organisations and a number of prominent politicians including the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, have said they will campaign vigorously against any expansion of Heathrow. In 2009, David Cameron pledged that there would be no new runway at Heathrow.

The government has said that it will give its official response to the Commission in the autumn and it is estimated that, if given the go-ahead, any new runway would take more than a decade to build.


James Nickerson - CityAM Online - 1 July 2015

Zac Goldsmith, the favourite to be London mayor, has confirmed this morning that he will resign his seat if the government decides to follow Sir Howard Davies' recommendations to expand Heathrow. The Conservatives' star candidate said in an interview with LBC: "It?s a pledge of course I'd honour."

This is not the first time that Goldsmith has said he will resign if a third runway is built at Heathrow. David Cameron, meanwhile, would have to renege on his promise made in 2010 if he went ahead with the plans: "No ifs, no buts, there'll be no third runway at Heathrow."

Goldsmith makes his comments days before the first Conservative mayoral hustings on Saturday.

Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, however, said with a greenlight from the Airports Commission, it's now crucial that politicians stop hampering expansion at the expense of economic growth. "Unless the government steps back from the capacity debate, the recommendations from the Davies Commission will be completely futile. Six years of navel gazing and politicking is more than enough. It's time runways are built, to ensure that the interests of passengers and the wider UK economy prevail."

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