| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - January to March 2016
DEFRA WILL FOCUS ON 'NITROGEN DIOXIDE THRESHOLDS'
Will Date - Air Quality News Online - 24 March 2016
The potential air pollution impact of a mooted third runway at Heathrow is a "totally separate question" to the government's current focus on nitrogen dioxide thresholds, according to the UK's air quality minister.
Speaking in Parliament last week (March 17), Defra minister Rory Stewart outlined his Department's objective to focus on 'nitrogen dioxide thresholds' in the battle to bring the UK's air pollution problem in line with UK targets.
The minister was asked by the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth Ruth Cadbury what the government would do to achieve legally binding targets for air pollution in the event that a third runway is built at Heathrow Airport.
The UK is currently one of several EU Member States in line for potential infraction proceedings due to its failure to meet air quality since 2010.
The government submitted a revised plan in December which outlined the government's proposals to meet the air quality targets, including measures to introduce clean air zones in five cities.
Responding to the question on the impact of a new runway at Heathrow on air pollution, Mr Stewart said: "The current objective is to focus on nitrogen dioxide thresholds and ensure that we reduce ambient air quality rates below 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Heathrow is a totally separate question that must be assessed independently by the Environment Agency and our air quality monitors, to see whether ambient air quality targets are met."
The minister was also asked why the air quality plan focussed in particular on five cities, and he added: "In those five cities, the ambient air quality level of 40 micrograms per cubic metre is due to be exceeded. Therefore, our objective is to ensure that by 2020, in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, we drop that level below 40 micrograms per cubic metre."
MAG CREATES £250M AIRFIELD FRAMEWORK
Placenorthwest News Online - 9 March 2016
Manchester Airports Group will spend between £190m and £250m over the next eight years on airfield works across its portfolio of airports at Manchester, East Midlands, London Stansted and Bournemouth.
The organisation has invited large contractors with turnovers in excess of £100m to compete for a place on a new framework. All the work will be delivered under airside restrictions of access and security.
MAG airports are used by 42m passengers and handle 600,000 tonnes of air freight every year.
The framework will be used to meet the needs of the MAG "rolling capital programme in order to satisfy its regulatory compliance and growth obligations."
MAG is at the start of a 10-year £1bn capital investment programme to transform Manchester Airport and position the airport as a global gateway.
Some of the items of work to be covered in the airfield packages are asbestos removal, demolition and site clearance, new taxiways, new plane stands, lighting, fencing and earthworks.
The deadline for expressions of interest is 4 April.
LONDON STANSTED CAMBRIDGE CORRIDOR GROWTH
COMMISSION WANTS MORE INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE
Sir Harvey McGrath, chairman of the LSCC Growth Commission,
believes Stansted Airport can be a global gateway
Herts & Essex Observer - 8 March 2016
The London Stansted Cambridge Corridor (LSCC) Growth Commission has delivered a shopping list for the Government which it says will ensure global competitiveness. The wishlist came as the West Anglia Taskforce warned how growth across region will be damaged if work is not done to improve rail links, including investing in four-tracking as a vital precursor to Crossrail 2.
While the corridor's growth is outpacing all other regions across the UK, with its GVA (Gross Value Added) growing 6.1 per cent since the recession compared with the UK average of 3.7 per cent, the commission has warned that comparable zones around the world are outpacing it, because they have better coordinated strategies for 'smart growth', particularly in housing and transport.
The report emphasises that the region's competition is not with other parts of the UK but with other growth areas globally, such as Silicon Valley and Greater Munich.
In its interim report released today (Tuesday) the Growth Commission warns:
The region is facing potentially major supply and demand issues in areas such as infrastructure, skills and housing, and it must follow examples of its global competitors to collaborate and solve these.
Other global regions have grown by successfully focusing on digital connectivity, cultural vibrancy and quality of life and this needs to be a priority over the next ten years.
There needs to be more focus on different players in the region taking collective responsibility for its growth.
Located in the middle of the region, Stansted Airport has the potential to become a major global gateway, but its efforts are being crippled by sub-standard railway links to London.
Alongside the list of emerging issues and concerns flagged by the report, the commission has identified a number of practical steps to address barriers to economic growth in the region. These include improving transport links: on M11 Junctions 7, 7a, 8 and 9; West Anglia main line improvements; and Crossrail 2.
Sir Harvey McGrath, chairman of the LSCC Growth Commission, said: "It can be challenging to work collaboratively across administrative boundaries. But what we have seen from our work on international comparisons, looking at American and European high-tech regions, is that success relies on partners, with a clear sense of purpose and leadership, coming together and moving things forward."
"There are some strong examples already in the region of politicians and business working together across administrative boundaries, for example the Cambridge City Deal. There are also developing programmes around for example a joint vision for Greater Harlow."
"We are delighted to be jointly launching our interim findings with the West Anglia Taskforce. The taskforce is a clear example of the region coming together around a clarity of purpose, securing significant improvements to the London-Stansted-Cambridge rail services. It shows how an effective narrative, can bring together the political and business leaders from across local administrative boundaries."
STANSTED NAMED BEST LONDON AIRPORT
AT THE LONDON TRANSPORT AWARDS
Eadt Online - 4 March 2016
Stansted has been named Best London Airport at the 14th annual London Transport Awards.
The judging panel recognised the investment programme undertaken by Stansted's owner, MAG, to inspire renewed growth at Stansted with particular focus on improvements to the security hall and departure lounge plus airline deals to enable significant passenger and cargo growth at the airport.
Andrew Harrison, managing director at Stansted Airport, said: "I'm delighted Stansted has been named Best London Airport at the prestigious London Transport Awards, and very proud of the work we have undertaken to rejuvenate and enhance the customer experience and facilities has been recognised by the judging panel and the wider transport world."
"In the last three years we have added over five million more passengers to become one of the UK's fastest growing airports and invested over £100 million to improve our infrastructure to give passengers and airlines more choice, great value and even better service. We have made great progress on the journey to be the best airport, and this award is a vote of confidence in the changes we have already made. We remain committed to building on this success story and continuing to grow our already extensive route network and investing further in our facilities to provide passengers up and down the booming London-Cambridge economic corridor with the best choice and service when choosing to fly."
Mike Brown, transport commissioner at Transport for London who gave the keynote speech at the awards, said: "I am delighted to support these awards, which showcase the work of transport authorities, operators, suppliers and contractors, and all their people in ensuring that London remains a world leading city. The capital's population is at record levels - 8.6 million today, which will become 10 million by 2030: the definition of a mega city."
"In just four years, the number of passengers we serve has increased by nearly half a billion a year. Our population is growing at the rate of two full Tube trains a week or two full buses a day. In response, significant investment is being made to modernise the transport network. The Victoria line is now one of the most frequent metro services in the world, we have new air-conditioned trains on four lines, Crossrail 1 is on time and on budget. In addition, we are spending £4bn on improving our roads."
The London Transport Awards, held in association with Transport Times magazine, were judged by a panel chaired by Professor David Begg, chief executive of Transport Times, and also including Janet Cooke, chief executive of London Travel Watch, Nick Lester-Davis, corporate director of services for London Councils, and Valerie Shawcross, chair of the London Assembly's transport committee.
The gala ceremony was hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter Steph McGovern and attended by 500 transport professionals at the Lancaster London Hotel.
OUR COMMENT: No award for policies on noise reduction!
LEVEL OF POTENTIALLY HARMFUL NITROGEN DIOXIDE
ALMOST DOUBLE THE LEGAL LIMIT IN STORTFORD
Herts & Essex Observer - 3 March 2016
Bishop's Stortford has the second highest level of damaging nitrogen dioxide in the East of England - with concentration of the pollutant almost double the legal limit.
Illegally high levels have been recorded at more than 250 sites across the region, according to BBC East research, and environmental lawyer group ClientEarth is now planning High Court action against the Government.
There should be no more than 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) per cubic metre of air (mcg/m3). However, 76mcg/m3 have been recorded in Stortford - almost twice as much as that of cities and larger towns such as Cambridge, Chelmsford and Milton Keynes. Only Watford has a higher level of NO2, with 80mcg/m3. Waltham Cross also has 76mcg/m3.
NO2 is released when fuels such as car diesel or in central heating boilers are burned. There is evidence that high levels can inflame the airways of lungs and, over time, affect how well vital organs work.
The problem zone in Stortford is at Hockerill crossroads, where an air quality management area was declared back in February 2007. East Herts District Council is responsible for monitoring pollution levels at the crossroads on behalf of DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
What can be done?
It has come under fire from the Bishop's Stortford Climate Group following the high NO2 readings: "Hockerill crossroads is one of the nine key hotspots in the county, yet local people have seen very little done by the council." One of those people is 64-year-old Bob Kelly, who has lived near the crossroads on the A1060 London Road for some 35 years. He said traffic levels had "altered alarmingly" in the last 18 months and that the area had become a motoring "catastrophe".
Stortford's Cllr Graham McAndrew, East Herts' executive member for environment, said: "While we do what we can, working with our partners such as the county council, clinical commissioning groups, DEFRA and the Met Office, to alleviate levels, our powers are limited in what we can do and the issue is very complex. Car ownership is very high in East Herts and public transport is limited, which adds to the situation."
Cllr McAndrew, who is also chair of Hertfordshire Sustainability Forum, added: "The traffic lights are periodically reviewed to make sure they are on the best cycle to ensure traffic is moving. We'll continue to consider the effects on air pollution when assessing planning applications. We'll also be working with partners to improve the environment around the train station and encourage access by bicycle as part of the National Stations Improvement Programme."
Town, district and county councillor Colin Woodward has also said he will review the poor air quality as chair of Hockerill Residents' Association.
Air quality by county
The BBC research by county showed that Hertfordshire, with 95, had more than double the amount of illegal readings than any other in the east. An air quality management area also exists in Sawbridgeworth, having been declared in February last year.
A joint statement from Derrick Ashley, Herts County Council's cabinet member for environment, and Teresa Heritage, cabinet member for public health, said: "We are committed to reducing emissions such as NO2. There are many sustainable ways of travelling across the county and our aim is to make these attractive and well-known alternatives to using a car."
"For example, we successfully secured £9.7 million from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund to improve walking and cycling routes, enhance local bus services, market sustainable transport options and use innovative technology in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford. We also have an online school journey planner, helping families to find alternative modes of travel for journeys to school. We are working with our district council partners on their air quality plans, encouraging a more collaborative approach across environmental health, highways and planning, and are also looking at how we can improve air quality monitoring across the county."
Essex, with 37 illegal readings recorded, was second of the counties. The only air quality management area that exists in Uttlesford covers Saffron Walden town centre.
The district council has just put together a five-year draft air quality action plan that sets out a number of proposed measures to reduce pollution.
Paper copies are available at the council offices in Walden, the town library and the council's community information centres at Dunmow Library and 7 Town Street, Thaxted. Consultation closes at 5pm on March 24.
OUR COMMENT: It needs to be remembered that a significant amount of airport related traffic passes through the Hockerell crossroads.
THE CAA LAUNCHES MAJOR CONSULTATION ON
IMPROVEMENTS TO UK AIRSPACE CHANGE PROCESS
CAA announcement - 15 March 2016
The CAA today launched a major consultation on how decisions are made on proposed changes to the UK's airspace structure.
It seeks views from stakeholders, ranging from the aviation industry and general aviation to people affected by aircraft noise, on a series of proposals aimed at making the airspace change process more transparent and giving the CAA a more hands-on role.
The airspace change process
If someone, usually an airport or air traffic control body, wants to request a permanent change to the UK airspace structure they must submit a proposal to the CAA, which goes through our airspace change process.
The CAA is consulting on proposed improvements to this process, which is used to decide whether a change goes ahead. Our suggested changes are supported by an independent review carried out in 2015 by specialist consultants Helios.
The consultation therefore details changes to the process a proposal goes through, which includes consultation with local communities, and also how it can be made more transparent.
One of a range of recommendations under consideration to achieve this is an online portal to provide a single access point for anyone to view, comment on and access documents for every UK airspace change proposal. The effectiveness of the process could also be improved by additional stages of scrutiny and validation.
The consultation is not about areas which are outside of the CAA's airspace change process, such as Government policy, which the CAA's process must follow. Government policy on issues, such as whether flight paths are concentrated along a narrow path or deliberately dispersed, whether flight paths are alternated to provide periodic respite from noise, and whether tranquil areas are avoided, are not part of the CAA consultation.
The consultation which is open to everyone is available until 15 June 2016 and can be accessed at consultations.caa.co.uk
EC MULLS SHORT TERM AVIATION EMISSIONS FIX
Simon Roach - ENDS Europe DAILY - 8 March 2016
The European Commission is considering measures to reduce CO2
emissions from international aviation in the period up to 2020,
according to a consultation launched on Monday.
This may include amending the EU's emissions trading system (ETS) for
the period 2017-2020, after a short term exemption under the ETS runs out at the end of this year.
ICAO, the UN agency responsible for regulating aviation emissions, is
developing an international global market-based measure (GMBM) which will aim to limit emissions growth beyond 2020. Following this the Commission must decide along with the European Parliament and member states how to implement any
GMBM, and whether additional policy measures are needed in the interim.
The Commission consultation asks what implications the landmark Paris
climate agreement should have for climate action on aviation and how this should develop over time.
The Paris deal, which seeks to limit global warming to "well below"
2°C, controversially excluded international transport from
its final text. Regarding countries' contributions toward the overall
goal, however, it contained a 5-year review mechanism as a means to
incrementally increase ambition, and NGOs have called for any EU
legislation on an aviation GMBM to make use of a similar 'ratchet
Last month the Irish transport ministry published a draft proposal
from ICAO on the GMBM, dated from December 2015. While still under
negotiation and subject to change, the document suggested that
the GMBM will be an offsetting scheme.
Types of offset allowed within such a system would be a politically
sensitive issue for the GMBM negotiations, due to offsets' varying
quality with regards to environmental impact. Part of the
Commission's proposal seeks views on this issue, as well as what the
EU should expect from September's pivotal ICAO agreement.
Tension is set to rise as NGOs believe that an aviation offsetting scheme would not address the long-term issue of absolute emissions reductions.
The Commission noted that CO2 emissions from international aviation
are expected to grow by at least 250% by 2050, relative to 2005
The consultation closes on 30 May.
Boris Again - he really wants his island!
BORIS JOHNSON RENEWS CALLS
FOR STANSTED AIRPORT EXPANSION
North Essex News - 22 March 2016
A leading Conservative MP has called on the Government to reconsider expanding Stansted Airport.
Boris Johnson previously tried to convince the Airports Commission to approve the so-called Boris Island plan for a four-runway hub to be built in the Thames Estuary. However, the mayor of London's idea was rejected in September 2014.
Mr Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip - near Heathrow - has attempted to resurrect the scheme. His office published a report which claims a four-runway hub either in the Thames Estuary or at an expanded Stansted Airport is the only way to secure the number of new routes required to boost the UK economy.
He said: "If we are to secure the connectivity we need to support our future growth and prosperity - and do so without dire impacts on public health - then we must do better than Heathrow."
Mr Johnson believes a hub in the east would offer double the number of long haul and domestic routes served by Heathrow while exposing 95% fewer people to significant aircraft noise. The Government is assessing whether to back expansion at Heathrow - the Airports Commission's recommended option - or Gatwick.
The 78-page document produced by the mayor's office says a four-runway hub would serve 114 daily long haul routes in 2050, compared with 75 at a three-runway Heathrow. Mr Johnson said: "We need a long-term vision for the right airport that sustains our economy and safeguards our public health. I would urge Government not to turn its back on our future."
Mr Johnson is stepping down as mayor in May. A Stansted Airport spokesman said: "We await the Government's response to the Airports Commission final report like everyone else. But we strongly believe the immediate priorities should be to urgently invest in rail improvements to allow Stansted to make best use of its existing spare runway capacity."
OUR COMMENT: Stansted still has a very long way to go before reaching its existing permitted expansion to 35mppa.
AIRPORT AT HEART OF LONDON-STANSTED-CAMBRIDGE
GROWTH COMMISSION'S AMBITIONS FOR REGION
London-Stansted-Cambridge Growth Commission chairman
Sir Harvey McGrath is focused on Stansted Airport
Herts & Essex Observer - 15 February 2016
A globally important development area with the airport as its axis was at the heart of the latest meeting of the London-Stansted-Cambridge Growth Commission. The organisation was formed to develop "an independent, thought provoking and ambitious economic vision" for the UK's fastest growing region - the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor (LSCC).
Research published by the commission illustrated the economic robustness of the LSCC region compared to the UK average:
Historic economic growth rate 20 per cent higher than nationally 1997-2014;
Post-recession economic growth rate 65 per cent higher 2010-2014;
Productivity rate 16 per cent higher than UK average.
The commission is focussing on how to retain international competitiveness, addressing the threats around skills and training, transport connectivity, workspace provision and housing and regeneration.
Chairman Sir Harvey McGrath said: "We face a range of challenges to retain our global competitiveness. Stansted as the region's international gateway is a key driver of economic growth." He said much needed rail improvements to London and northwards were a priority.
Sir Harvey said last Thursday, as experts gathered to discuss the issues at the airport: "We need to benchmark ourselves internationally and learn from our competitors. Today we launch the first of our international comparison reports, looking at other high-tech, high-growth regions. These areas show a clear commitment to invest in their infrastructure, as well as providing the science parks that promote open-innovation across the universities and the private sector. We have good practice already at locations such as Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and the Babraham campus, but can more be done?"
Andrew Harrison, Stansted Airport's managing director, said: "Stansted Airport is a national infrastructure asset, lying at the heart of this exciting innovation corridor, yet we are ambitious to do more to improve international connectivity in our region, enabling more businesses to trade overseas and compete in the global marketplace. Only this week we announced that British Airways will start to operate from Stansted in May, we hope this will be one of many more new airlines who are attracted to growing potential of the airport, the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor and the wider East of England region."
Professor Michael Enright, from the University of Hong Kong providing independent advice to the commission, said: "It is clear from my work across Asia and globally that the UK cannot be complacent. Established economies will face increasing competition in the knowledge-innovation-creative economy.
To succeed in the future, regions will need to organise, agree on key priorities, solve housing issues, and commit to invest in infrastructure and skills."
"The London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor is a key high growth opportunity area for the UK and I am delighted to be working with the Commission. With a vision and plan to invest in a high quality business location capable of attracting global talent, the corridor will be poised to become a pre-eminent regional economy - both nationally and internationally."
Alexandria Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities and Growth Commissioner, added: "Our research shows that this is an innovation corridor, showing significantly higher rates of growth than other parts of the UK. This raises challenges to ensure that business can get the skills they need to scale-up. A lack of skills is cited as the number one challenge for tech firms, holding back their potential growth."
OUR COMMENT: How many of those actually living in this so-called "corridor" were consulted?
BA COMES TO STANSTED -
THE SICK MAN OF LONDON'S AIRPORTS
"In my eyes, Stansted is the great missed opportunity
among London airports"
Nick Trend, Consumer Editor - Daily Telegraph - 11 February 2016
I was genuinely surprised - and at first a little mystified - by British Airways' announcement this week that it was, for the first time, launching flights from Stansted. After years of retreating in the face of efficient, aggressive, highly-focused competition from Ryanair and Easyjet, why was it prising open the cage door and entering the lions' den?
But all is not quite what it seems. In edging onto the home turf of its no-frills rivals, BA is actually carrying out a cunning raid on some of their most profitable business. First, these flights are only operating one day a week. What BA is doing, at least in the first instance, is moving four of its planes which usually operate out of London City Airport to Stansted on Saturdays - when London City is closed. And second, it will be serving some of the most attractive destinations - Faro, Malaga, Palma (Majorca) and Ibiza - on the one day when demand, and therefore fares, are normally at their highest.
The flights launch on May 28, which is the first Saturday of the spring half term, so they should be guaranteed to get off to a good start. BA's lead-in return fare is £98 return (hand-baggage only), but those half term flights had already risen to £250 only 24 hours after bookings opened.
"Flying in an Embraer 190 is a more civilised experience than a Ryanair 737"
While this seems like a clever business move from BA, how does it look from the passengers' point of view? I think it is good news. More competition means more choice, and hopefully lower fares. And the BA option looks attractive. The planes it is using - 98-seat Embraer 190 jets - are much more civilised to fly on than, say, a Ryanair 737 with a capacity of nearly 200 people. Seating is arranged in pairs, so no-one suffers the ignominy of a middle seat.
Stansted is largely used by no-frills airlines
Much, of course, will depend on those fares: air travel is incredibly price sensitive. BA knows this, of course, and if it doesn't offer value when competing head-to-head like this, it won't survive. But by entering the fray at peak times, it has every chance of success.
The downside of all this is the airport. In my eyes, Stansted is the great missed opportunity among London airports. I remember when the current terminal opened in 1991, its airy Norman Foster design was streets ahead of its rivals, and for a while it was a genuinely pleasant airport to fly from. But it had opened during a recession, didn't fit with BA's and the full-service airlines route networks, and it ended up being colonised by the no-frills airlines who were then much more interested in price than service. The gloss soon rubbed off as passenger numbers began to grow too fast for comfort.
Its latest remodeling - which has been re-opening in stages recently - has made some improvements. The security checks are more efficient, and immigration queues are better than they were. But you still get the feeling that instead of being looked after like a valued passenger, you are being targeted as a potential source of revenue.
You are now forced to walk a long meandering path through a seemingly endless shopping arcade before being spewed out into an over-crowded lounge. And while there is plenty of space in some (although not all) of the gates lounges, you aren't usually told your gate number early enough to be able to make much use of it. Gatwick and Heathrow have done a great job redeveloping their terminals. Stansted has not.
MAJOR AIRCRAFT CO2 RULES PUSHED BACK TO 2028
The international CO2 standard for aircraft will allow production
of many large, more heavily polluting aircraft to continue
without CO2 improvements until 2028
Simon Roach - ENDS Europe DAILY - 9 February 2016
Negotiators at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
on Monday agreed minimum standards that will require completely new
designs over 60 tonnes to meet a stringency requirement of 8.5 on a
1-10 scale from 2020.
But models already on the market will not have to meet their new
standard (7 on the scale) until 2028. The EU campaign had pushed for standard of 6,
while the US wanted 8 or 9.
The standards for smaller aircraft under 60 tonnes are less strict,
but these account less than 10% of aviation emissions.
Monday's deal now goes forward for approval by ICAO member countries
at the crucial September assembly that will also finalise a separate
global market-based measure later this year for controlling aviation emissions after 2020.
The European Commission said the standards could cut CO2 by 650
million tonnes over 2020-40. But green group T&E said the weak CO2 standard, which would not lead
to short-term improvements in aircraft efficiency, reinforced the
need for a "credible market-based measure".
ICAO said it will reassess new technology options before 2019 with a
view to possibly tightening the standards in the future.
OUR COMMENT: Once again, priorities for the future are ignored.
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