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

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - April to June 2017


Martin Ford - Hertfordshire Mercury - 8 June 2017

Stansted Airport's CEO has promised it will be "cleaner, quieter and smarter" as it bids to increase the number of passengers passing through annually by nine million.

The airport's owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has taken the first steps in increasing capacity to 44 million passengers a year by 2030. A planning application is being prepared to make use of spare capacity by raising its current cap of 35 million.

Stansted's CEO, Andrew Cowan, said: "Stansted will be critical in supporting the UK's economic growth and increasing our global competitiveness. Making the most of existing capacity at Stansted over the next ten to 15 years is a strategic priority. We have always been committed to meeting future demand in the most sustainable and efficient way possible."

Mr Cowan also pledged to listen to residents living nearby, and the airport will be running a consultation. The proposals have divided opinion in neighbouring Bishop's Stortford, where the prospect of more jobs has been welcomed, but concerns remain over a possible increase in air pollution and added pressure on transport and housing.

Mr Cowan added: "In the coming months we will be continuing to talk to those with an interest in Stansted's growth, including local residents, businesses and airline partners to ensure we maximise the social and economic benefits and address any impacts. We know that growth is a sensitive and important issue for people living close to airports and we are committed to engaging, listening and sharing as much information as possible as we develop our plans and thinking. We take our responsibilities to the communities around the airport seriously, and as part of our growth plan we will focus on operating in cleaner, quieter and smarter ways."

The boost to employment was emphasised by Mr Cowan, who highlighted the technical college being created with Harlow College. "We will remain focused on providing employment opportunities for local people, building on the fantastic education, jobs and training schemes we have in place," he said. We constantly monitor the air quality around the airport and have always met our clean air targets. At the same time, our airlines have invested heavily in quieter fleets of aircraft helping to reduce our noise footprint. We are also proud that over 50 per cent of passengers use public transport and will continue to push for better rail links to the airport."

The airport will announce the details of its consultation programme "in the coming weeks".


Kate Proctor - Standard News Online - 8 June 2017

Heathrow is due to get a third runway - A ban on all airport expansion in the UK is the only way to tackle the country's poor air quality, the Greens said today.

The proposed clampdown on the heavily polluting aviation industry was revealed in their manifesto and would mean no third runway at Heathrow, or expansion at Manchester and Stansted which have considered developing their airports.

The party also wants to axe subsidies for aviation fuel to raise 13.8bn for the Treasury and issue car manufacturers with a one-off fine for cheating emissions tests which they believe would raise 8bn.

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said today the Conservatives had demonstrated a "shamefully weak" response to air quality issues and pollution levels in the UK are a national public health crisis.

Mr Bartley, who co-leads the party with Caroline Lucas, told the Standard: "The Green Party has the environment at the heart of its manifesto and the policies we're setting out today will ensure the next generation has clean air to breathe. This is an entirely preventable crisis and it would be a catastrophic failure if the next Government did not take action to help stop the 40,000 early deaths across the UK every year linked to air pollution."

Airlines currently pay no tax on the fuel they use or VAT, while road users pay 20 percent VAT on the petrol they buy.


Catherine Johnson - BraintreeandWithamtimes Online - 7 June 2017

STANSTED airport has put forward plans to increase its number of passengers from 35 million per year 45 million. In an environment scoping request, lodged with Uttlesford Council, the airport said there would also be a corresponding increase of 11,000 annual aircraft movements with associated construction.

Two new runway links would be added together with six additional aircraft stands. In the application, planning manager Alistair Andrew said: "It should be noted that, at this time, no significant adverse environmental effects are predicted as a consequence of the proposed development."

If successful the plans mean Stansted Airport would become the UK's second largest. The internal layout of the building could see some changes made with an additional security search area.

The report said: "On April 7 planning permission was granted for the erection of a separate arrivals building adjoining the existing passenger terminal. The new arrivals building will enable all current arrivals facilities to be transferred from the existing terminal building, which as a result can then be entirely dedicated to handling increased departures activity."

"This development also has the potential for much simpler internal reconfiguration to re-use the existing arrivals area to provide additional check-in and bag drop facilities, a second security search area, improved and more efficient international departure lounge capacity, and the ability to develop more customised and different facilities for particular airlines or groups of passengers."


William Mata1 - Hertfordshire Mercury Online - 7 June 2017

Residents will be consulted on Stansted Airport expansion plans, according to Uttlesford District Council.

The local authority has received a request for an environmental assessment from airport owners MAG which will pave the way towards a full bid for planning permission. If the proposals are passed an extra 11,000 flights could leave every year and 44.5million people could use the airport.

Yesterday (Tuesday, June 6) plans protestor Lee Munden said concerns of residents would not be listened to.

In response to the issue a spokesperson from Uttlesford District Council said: "The council is aware of MAG's ambitions for growth at Stansted Airport. The council has therefore requested a scoping opinion which sets out the information it will need from the applicant before determining the planning application once it comes in."

"The council understands that a planning application is likely to be made later this year. Once the application is in, the council will consult local people, businesses and statutory agencies before determining whether or not to grant planning permission later in the year."

Stansted Airport has also committed to engage with residents, businesses and partners about the plans.


Huw Wales - Hertfordshire Mercury Online - 7 June 2017

Initial plans to expand Stansted Airport and make it the second busiest in the country have been met with caution in Bishop's Stortford.

Preliminary environmental assessment proposals that were submitted to Uttlesford District Council, the planning authority covering Stansted Airport, would involve an increase of 11,000 flights every year. Despite the belief that the expansion would bring jobs to the area, there are concerns it would be put even more strain on Bishop's Stortford's housing market and transport network.

Councillor Colin Woodward, the mayor of Bishop's Stortford, said: "It probably will have an impact on Bishop's Stortford. A lot of people going to the airport don't want to pay the parking charges at Stansted and leave their cars on the streets instead. It will also have an impact on our already congested road network."

It isn't just parking that has caused concerns in Bishop's Stortford - housing and air pollution are also high on the list of issues that people feel need to be addressed. Councillor Colin Woodward has concerns over the impact it might have on housing and infrastructure.

Mr Woodward said: "We will see an expansion of staff which will have an impact on the housing market. There will be a move away from family homes in the area. The demographics of Bishop's Stortford will change as the people come here to work at the airport."

"Stop Stansted Expansion and others will be keeping an eye on the air routes. I am also concerned about the amount of pollution - in the past I have contacted them over it - especially in the eastern side of the town. We are directly impacted on and on those plans East Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire will have no voice."

Up to ten million more passengers could go through Stansted every year and 11,000 more flights could take off and land at the airport, making it the second busiest in the country, under the plans. But despite concerns, others are waiting to see the full plans to decide whether they will support or oppose the plans.

Councillor John Wyllie, said: "It will be a case of wait and see exactly what they are proposing and what benefits they plan to bring to Bishop's Stortford. Until then I would be sitting on the fence. There will be more employment and definitely more jobs but whether they will be imported jobs or local jobs is to be seen."

Councillor John Wyllie hopes that the plans might include proposals that would take the pressure off Bishop's Stortford and be beneficial to both the town and the airport. He said: "At the moment they do invest in the bus service and my personal hope would be for them to invest in the Stansted Express and maybe expand it to Dunmow and Braintree. There are people who drive to Bishop's Stortford to park to get a train to London and this would help them. That is something I would be looking for but I don't think it will be in the planning application."

Robert Lee, from Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce, said: "The Chamber is very keen to support any development which will assist with sustaining and improving the prosperity of the area, whilst being mindful of environmental considerations. We believe that ensuring the efficient operation of the airport, with increased capacity, will be very beneficial to the local economy. In our opinion, the new arrivals building will contribute significantly to this. The direct and indirect stimulus to the local economy will be of benefit to businesses and citizens of Bishop's Stortford, Uttlesford and beyond."

Uttlesford District Council has received a request for an environmental assessment from Stansted Airport as a precursor to lodging a bid for planning permission. The application includes two new links to the runway together and six additional aircraft stands.

Alistair Andrews, Stansted Airport head of planning, said: "We are aiming to submit a planning application later this year, and this scoping report is a part of preparing that application. At this stage, no significant adverse environmental effects are predicted. However, the core topics of surface access transport, noise, air quality, socio-economics, carbon, climate change and health will be considered in detail in the environmental statement that will accompany the forthcoming submission."


Stansted Airport could increase its passenger cap by almost an extra 10million people under new expansion plans

Abbie Weaving - Eadt.co.uk Online - 7 June 2017

In a scoping document sent to Uttlesford District Council on June 1, the airport has proposed to amend the existing passenger cap of 35million a year to 44.5million, as well as to increase aircraft movements from 274,000 per annum to 285,000. If it goes ahead, this would see an extra 11,000 flights a year from Stansted.

The document is a precursor to a formal planning application, which will contain plans for further airfield infrastructure including two new links to the runway, six additional stands, and three more at the north eastern end of the airport.

Andrew Cowan, Stansted Airport's CEO, said: "By lifting the current caps, Stansted will be able to serve around 44million passengers a year on its existing runway by 2030. Making use of Stansted's spare capacity will benefit not only dynamic and fast growing east of England region, but also London and the UK as a whole - supporting the creation of thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds in additional economic activity."

Members of Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign (SSE), however, say they will fight the latest proposal. Martin Peachey, SSE noise advisor, said: "The group is fundamentally against it and we are having a meeting on Tuesday to hammer it out."

He added: "It's a difficult judgement [about whether it will be successful]. We managed to defeat the second runway and that's out of the window for a long time. This one will be a harder battle because it [the airport] can allow for up to 44.5million to use it."

He also said that because the airport is currently only serving 24million passengers a year that the plans are "premature", and will also have an impact on noise and air quality.

Mr Cowan, however, said the airport understands that growth is a "sensitive and important issue" for people living near to airport, and that they are committed to "engaging, listening and sharing" as much information as they can as they go forward. The scoping document also said that, despite a proposed increase of aircraft, planes are becoming quieter.


William Matal - Hertfordshire Mercury Online - 6 June 2017

Stansted Airport has been accused of showing a "total disregard" for residents over landmark plans to accommodate ten million more passengers every year. Residents and campaigners have united to point the finger at the airport after it emerged it is looking to embark on a major expansion plan.

The runway could see an extra 11,000 flights each year and the airport would become the UK's second largest if the proposals are passed. Uttlesford District Council has received a request for an environment assessment from Stansted Airport as a precursor to lodging a bid for planning permission. The application includes two new links to the runway together and six additional aircraft stands.

Alistair Andrews, Stansted Airport head of planning, said: "We are aiming to submit a planning application later this year, and this scoping report is a part of preparing that application. At this stage, no significant adverse environmental effects are predicted. However, the core topics of surface access transport, noise, air quality, socio-economics, carbon, climate change and health will be considered in detail in the environmental statement that will accompany the forthcoming submission."

For years many East Hertfordshire and West Essex residents have campaigned against expanding Stansted because of noise and pollution concerns.

Peter Sanders, 78, who lives in Saffron Walden and is chairman of pressure group Stop Stansted Expansion, is committed to fighting the move which would see 44.5 million passengers per year. He said: "The application is premature. The current [maximum] figure is 35 million passengers per year and that is what it was ten years ago so why rush to this stage?"

"They say there will be no effects [to residents]. But the throughput is a very big increase from what it is today. They say it's not significant but try telling that to people who live under the flight path. We will be making representations to Uttlesford District Council."

Would you like to see an expanded Stansted Airport?
His views were reflected by Lee Munden, 58, of Rectory Field, Harlow, who has started a petition to stop planes flying so low over town. He said: "The owners of the airport [Manchester Airport Group] would appear to be heavily focused upon the commercial aspects of Stansted Airport at the expense of local residents. Despite the rejection of the second runway, they are looking for ways to circumvent the system to increase revenue via increased passenger numbers. My personal opinion is that they have a total disregard for local residents concerns."

Stansted Airport has committed to engage with residents, businesses and partners about the plans.


Stansted is set to massively increase its passenger numbers

Piers Meyler - Essex Online - 5 June 2017

Stansted is set to increase the maximum number of passengers it can handle by 10 million per year - making it the second busiest airport in the UK. The massive increase - which equates to an extra 11,000 flights each year - has been revealed in a request submitted to Uttlesford District Council.

The request for a scoping opinion - the authority's formal view on what issues an Environmental Statement should contain - is being asked for ahead of a planning application to "facilitate making the best use of the existing single runway". This will include amending the existing cap on the number of passengers.

In a statement to Uttlesford DC Stansted Airport added it wants raise the cap from 35 million passengers per annum to approximately 44.5 million, as well as a associated increased in aircraft movements from the existing permitted total of 274,000 to around 285,000.

It would make Stansted the county's second busiest airport behind Heathrow - leapfrogging Gatwick which in 2016 handled 43.1 million passengers and 275,633 flights.

Although there is no plans for a second runway yet, the planning application will ask for permission for additional airfield infrastructure, comprising two new links to the runway, six additional stands on the mid airfield and three additional stands on the north eastern end of the airport.

Alistair Andrew, planning manager for the airport, said in a statement: "It should be noted that at this time no significant adverse environmental effects are predicted as a consequence of the proposed development. However, the core topics of surface access transport, noise, air quality, socio-economics, carbon, climate change and health will be considered in detail in the Environmental Statement."


The option of building a second runway at Stansted Airport should return
to the political agenda immediately following the General Election,
according to a leading business organisation

Duncan Brodie - Ipswich Star - 15 May 2017

The Institute of Directors (IoD) says that, with a third runway at Heathrow Airport not due to be completed until 2028 and traffic growing fast at Gatwick and Stansted, a new Airports Commission should be established by the new government immediately, with a brief to report back in a year. As the previous Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, come down against a fourth runway being added at Heathrow, any further increase in runway capacity in the South-East is likely to involve either Gatwick or Stansted - or possibly both.

In the latest in a series of "Business Manifesto" publications, this one entitled Future-proofing Infrastructure, the IoD says: "The decision on a third runway at Heathrow has been made. It has taken so long and won't even be ready until towards the end of the next decade, so it's important to start preparing now for two new runways. Gatwick is more or less full and Stansted will be by 2027. That's why we are calling for a new Airports Commission 2.0. Its mandate will be to answer the question: where could up to two new runways be built at the lowest cost to the taxpayer, to the maximum competition-enhancing benefit of passengers and airlines, and in the quickest possible time?"

The report, written by Dan Lewis, senior adviser on infrastructure policy at the IoD, adds that, with Gatwick already close to capacity, Stansted Airport can "make the greatest difference" in the short-term. Stansted's current annual passenger total of around 24.5m - the 25m mark is expected to be reached soon, due to an expanded summer 2017 schedule - is still well with the airport's current planning permission for up to 35m passengers a year, which a planned new arrivals hall will help it to accommodate. However, the existing runway could be used by enough flights for the airport to handle up to around 45m passengers a year, although this would require fresh planning consent.

The IoD report says that, while lifting this cap would enable Stansted to handle an extra 20m passengers a year, compared with current levels, the airport's "Achilles' heel" at present is the 55-minute rail journey time to London. However, it suggests that this could be reduced to less than 30 minutes. "Already there are plans afoot for additional line capacity," it adds. "A more radical solution would involve extending Crossrail to Stansted and further on to Cambridge along the M11."

A proposal for the new east-west Crossrail route from Shenfield in Essex to Reading in Berkshire to include a spur from Stratford to Stansted Airport was put forward in 2012 when the Davies Commission was launched. However, Crossrail, which is to be officially known as the Elizabeth Line, is now at an advanced stage of construction and a more likely option for improving links from Stansted could be the proposed Crossrail2, a north-south scheme would link up with the Liverpool Street to Cambridge line.

A spokesman for Stansted Airport, which has long campaigned for improved rail links with the capital, said: "Stansted is one of the busiest and fastest growing airports in the UK and our vision is to continue growing in a sustainable way to better serve one of the most dynamic regions of the UK. This vision will provide our region and London with more international connectivity by utilising Stansted's available runway capacity but it's vitally important we have a rail service that caters for future growth at the airport and along the burgeoning London-Cambridge corridor. To realise the full potential of the airport and the corridor, we need government to be serious about investing in our transport infrastructure and that means delivering a faster, more reliable and frequent rail service for our passengers and commuters to help business connect to the global marketplace."

Former Stansted owner BAA abandoned plans to build a second runway at the airport in 2010. Current owner Manchester Airport's Group (MAG), which acquired Stansted in 2013 as part of the forced break-up of BAA, has said it is considering "all options" for expansion up to 35m passengers a year "and possibly beyond" but has made no mention of plans for a second runway.

IoD report author Dan Lewis will be among the speakers in an Essex IoD event at Stansted later this month, taking part in a panel discussion at a breakfast event at the Hilton London Stansted Airport Hotel, from 7.30am to 9.30am on May 24. Other speakers will include Andrew Cook, director of highways and transportation at Essex County Council, Adam Bryan, managing director of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and Jon Horne, chief operating officer at Stobart Aviation, owner of London Southend Airport. Places cost 26 plus VAT for IoD members and members' guests and 36 plus VAT for non-members. The event will be followed by the annual members meeting of the IoD Essex branch to which all IoD members are invited.

OUR COMMENT: No concerns about the views of local people or limits in the number of air flights required for an effective Climate Change Agreement

Pat Dale


Cambridgenetwork Online - 12 May 2017

London Stansted welcomed over 2.1 million passengers to the airport during its busiest ever April, an increase of 11% over the same month in 2016 and passing the previous high for the month set in 2006. The record monthly total was boosted by the first full month of airlines' summer schedules and a number of new route launches, average load factor of 89.7% on each aircraft - another record for the month of April - and the later Easter holidays.

The international markets reporting strong passenger growth compared to April last year include the Canary Islands, Cyprus and France plus destinations in both Turkey and Denmark. In the 12 months ending April 2017, Stansted's passenger numbers grew by 5.7% compared with the previous year with the moving annual total rising to over 24.5 million.

Andrew Cowan said: "The start of the summer flying schedule is always a busy time at the airport but this year we have exceeded all previous records as we experienced our busiest ever April with over 2.1 million passengers passing through the terminal. The growth in passenger traffic was driven by strong demand for flights to many holiday hotspots across the Easter holidays, the launch of a host of new routes by our airline partners, particularly Ryanair and the newly arrived Jet2.com who kicked-off their first ever flight and holiday offer from any airport in the South-East. We also saw a record number of seats occupied on each flight for any April in the airport's history."

"The summer season promises to be another very busy and exciting time for Stansted as airlines add even more routes and increase capacity to key destinations which is great news for passengers who want to fly from their local airport. To help us keep pace with increased demand and improve the passenger experience, a number of projects around the airport will soon begin to provide additional check-in capacity, add more seating in the departure lounge and significantly increase car parking capacity. This work will help improve customer service and add vital capacity during the period in advance of the new arrivals building becoming operational and the subsequent full transformation of existing terminal."

Passenger numbers in the month of April rose by 11.0% from the same month last year and were 6.5% up on the record for April, set in 2006. Both 2006 and 2017 included Easter, whereas Easter fell in March last year.

Air Transport Movements (passenger ATMs + Cargo ATMs) for April, at 14,189, were 3.8% above the same month last year. The total ATMs for the month was 9.9% below the record for April, set in 2007 which also included Easter. Cargo tonnage for the month was 0.7% down on April 2016. The cumulative 12 months cargo, at 254,437 tonnes, was up 3.6% on the 12 months to April 2016.

The 12 months total of ATMs to April 2017 was 2.9% up on the 12 months ended April 2016, but still 14.3% below the all-time 12 months peak which ended in October 2007. The latest 12 month ATM total was exceeded in every 12 month period ending between July 2003 and April 2009. In other words, there are less flights now than during the period when SSE was in the thick of fighting the proposals for a second runway.

The difference between growth in passenger numbers and growth in ATMs is largely due to a steady rise in the average number of passengers per flight. In April 2017, dividing passengers by total ATMs (including freight) showed 147.9 whilst the equivalent average passenger loading in 2009 was only 127.7. The average number of passengers per passenger flight is a little over 160, but information to calculate this figure is not consistently available.

Under the existing planning approval, passenger numbers have permission to grow by 42% from the present level to 35mppa, whilst ATMs have permission to grow by 59% to 264,000.

Ken Macdonald - SSE Transport Advisor


A campaign group is urging residents to make their views known to reverse flight path changes at Stansted Airport, which is causing "noise misery"

Michael Steward - EADT Online - 9 May 2017

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says the flight path changes for aircraft taking off from Stansted has led to double the number of planes flying during the day on the easterly Clacton departure routes. SSE says the additional aircraft noise is causing noise misery for residents beneath those flight paths and that the "only winners are the airlines".

The flight path changes were implemented in February last year after approval by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), despite fierce opposition from residents, according to SSE. The campaign group says 82% of people who responded to the public consultation prior to the changes opposed them, but their views were ignored.

A review of the changes by NATS and CAA is currently underway and SSE is calling on residents to submit their views to push for a reversal of the changes.

Martin Peachey, from SSE, said: "Whenever there are changes to flightpaths there are always winners and losers but in this instance it seems that the only winners are the airlines. There must be a more equitable outcome so that local residents do not pay a high price in terms of increased noise misery."

SSE has written to NATS and the CAA and has offered to meet with NATS officials to discuss the issue further.

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "We recognise that aircraft noise is important issue for local residents and one we take very seriously through the implementation of our noise control plan, and the successful application of modern flying techniques to reduce the overall number of people impacted by noise. We believe it's right there is a considered process for airspace changes and that the CAA revisit the decisions they've taken, and if anyone feels they wish to contribute to the review they should take the opportunity to provide any feedback."

NATS said it was unable to comment as the review was entering its post-implementation stage.


Penalising UK drivers in the heat of an election campaign promises
a political car crash, so the government has hit the brakes and
slammed clean air policy into reverse

Damian Green, Environment Editor - The Guardian - 5 May 2017

For seven years, people in Britain have been forced to hold their breath and wait for a comprehensive plan to tackle the nation's toxic air crisis. After a series of humiliating defeats in the courts, Friday's government plan was meant to finally deliver.

But instead ministers hit the brakes and slammed the policy into reverse - the farcical new strategy has even less detail than the one already ruled illegal. What was the impassable roadblock in the way of finally starting to cut the 23,000 early deaths diesel pollution causes every year? Nothing but pure political expediency.

The only sure way to bring the toxic nitrogen dioxide spewed out by dirty diesel vehicles down to legal levels is to keep them out of cities and towns. The law demands the fastest possible action, which means deterring polluting drivers with charges - as will happen in London. But backing new taxes on drivers in the heat of an election campaign promises a political car crash, so ministers have simply swerved and crashed into the nation's health instead.

The most shocking aspect is that buried in the documents are candid admissions that the crisis is the "largest environmental threat to public health in the UK" and that it is a "direct result" of car makers gaming emissions tests for years, so that their vehicles pump out far more pollution on the road. Ministers even say: "We will continue to press car manufacturers to develop options for recalling existing vehicles to improve their real world emissions performance." But unlike in Germany and France, the government's pressing of car makers has driven precisely zero action.

Rather than tackle air pollution head on, the government has passed the buck to local authorities, daring them to impose the needed charges instead and face the electoral consequences. Ministers suggest councils should penalise any diesel cars more than two years old - most of them - but lack the courage of their convictions.

In place of meaningful action, the government's plan suggests gimmicks such as removing speed bumps and re-phasing traffic lights, measures as likely to increase traffic and emissions as to cut them.

One of the few good parts of the new plan is funds to clean up older buses, lorries and taxis but even this is old money, already announced in the budget. The much vaunted scrappage scheme is mentioned only as a possibility and even then would only cover 0.1% of all diesel cars.

OUR COMMENT: Remember that air pollution from associated traffic is a problem for all airports, including Stansted.

Pat Dale


Eedie.net Online - 28 April 2017

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has criticised the UK Government for refusing to commit to air quality targets in relation to the third runway expansion, labelling the associated carbon calculations as a "fantasy".

As part of its response, the Government revealed that it will publish an Aviation Strategy white paper in 2018 as part of a broader aviation commitment The Government has aligned itself with the findings of the Airports Commission, which suggests that Heathrow airport could expand without exceeding legal air quality levels. The EAC issued a report in February, warning that the expansion at Heathrow Airport could create a "black hole" in future carbon budgets.

In a response to the EAC's concerns, published this week, the Government has reaffirmed its belief that the Airport Commission's carbon scenarios and measures are "realistic", noting that none of the scenarios place extra pressure on other sectors to reduce emissions. Specifically, the Government noted it "remains open to considering all feasible measures to ensure the aviation sector contributes fairly to UK emissions reductions".

The EAC chair, Mary Creagh has since suggested that the upcoming general election will enable the Government to "duck their responsibilities to the environment", noting that no guarantees have been made that EU air quality policies will remain in place for the expansion to adhere to. "Heathrow expansion should only go ahead if the Government has a clear plan for the extra air pollution, carbon emissions and noise," Creagh said today (28 April).

"I am pleased to see the Government agrees with my Committee's recommendation on measuring the noise impacts, but Ministers are still refusing to guarantee that EU air quality targets won't be quietly dropped after we leave the EU, have no national plan for air pollution, and their carbon calculations are a fantasy."

The Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling has stated that "we must tackle air quality and noise, and meet our obligations on carbon both during and after construction". The Transport Committee is expected to scrutinise draft recommendations and will publish its report by summer recess 2017.

With the UK planning to reduce emissions by 57% by 2032 - and by 80% by 2050 - as part of the recently-approved Fifth Carbon Budget, critics have questioned how the airport expansion will align with these national policies. Thursday's High Court ruling to publish an air quality plan by July places extra pressure on the Government to outline how the expansion will fit in with the UK Air Quality Plan.

"The Government is determined to meet its air quality obligations and to do so in the shortest time possible. We will publish the final UK Air Quality Plan by 31 July," the response notes. "Final development consent will only be granted if the secretary of state is satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal air quality requirements."

"The Government is aware of the desire for certainty around what exiting the EU means for our environmental policy and legislative framework. That is why the Prime Minister announced last year our plans for a Great Repeal Bill. The Bill will convert EU law into UK law as it stands at the moment before we leave the EU."

As part of its response, the Government revealed that it will publish an Aviation Strategy white paper in 2018 as part of a broader aviation commitment. The Government also reaffirmed its intention to participate in the global aviation emissions scheme from 2021.


Air pollution around Heathrow is getting worse as the Government
presses ahead with plans for a third runway, it has been revealed.

Nicholas Cecil - Standard News Online - 6 April 2017

Nitrogen dioxide levels rose at nine out of 12 monitors in west London within two kilometres (1.24 miles) of the airport between 2015 and 2016, according to provisional data. At two sites in Hillingdon and Hayes it remained in breach of EU limits. At another, Oxford Avenue in Hillingdon, the average NO2 level spiralled from 32 micrograms per cubic metre of air to almost hitting the legal limit of 40.

Campaigners against a third runway seized on the revelations to cast further doubt on whether the airport can expand within EU air quality rules. John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: "The key fact that Heathrow cannot hide is that air quality around the airport is going in the wrong direction. It is going to be harder than ever for Heathrow to build a third runway and stay within legal air pollution limits."

A report, published on the Heathrow Airwatch website, admitted that NO2 concentrations increased at many of the monitoring sites between 2015 and 2016 but stressed that this had happened across the South-East so "indicated" the specific rises were not the result of changes in local activities. It emphasised that the annual average NO2 concentration remained below the EU limit at nine of the 11 monitoring sites outside the airport boundary within 2km of Heathrow.

It added that at the Hillingdon and Hayes monitoring stations, north of the M4, which were above the legal level, airport emissions from all sources contributed 16 per cent and six per cent of total nitrogen oxides respectively.

Another monitor near the northern runway recorded a reading of 47 micrograms per cubic metre, up three on 2015, but the report stressed that the EU limits did not apply as the public do not have access to this area. The report stressed that the number of aircraft movements made by the newest, cleanest aircraft had increased to more than 20 per cent in 2016 and continued to rise. Particulate PM10 pollution at the monitoring sites were within the EU limits.

The Government has backed another runway at Heathrow, rather than expanding Gatwick. Heathrow stressed that it took its "environmental obligations seriously" and that new public transport would transform access to Heathrow to cut road traffic emissions.

However, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon council, said: "Local residents are well aware of the air quality issue and that Heathrow are doing insufficient work to mitigate it." Heathrow Airwatch is funded by a joint working partnership of Heathrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne councils and British Airways.

A DfT spokesman said: "Delivering new runway capacity in the south east is vital to the future of the UK, both in terms of boosting our economy and our position on the world stage. The consultation currently underway clearly sets out the benefits and potential impacts of expansion, and we want to hear everyone's views as part of this process. This is accompanied by a world-class package of compensation and mitigation measures to support local communities. We take our environmental obligations extremely seriously and have been very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met."

OUR COMMENT: A warning to all airports. More flights, more transport, then air pollution is inevitable.

Pat Dale


"Have your say" Standard News Online - 6 April 2017

Night flights are a source of pure misery for communities under the flight path and the Chancellor is kidding himself if he thinks the partial ban recommended by the Airports Commission will satisfy them ["Ministers 'only backed third Heathrow runway if night flight ban remained'", April 3].

As Philip Hammond knows, the Government has already cut back the modest reduction in night flying and the airlines are fighting tooth and nail to trim it further. The only way to prove a night flight ban can be delivered is to introduce it now.

While we residents are allowed six-and-a-half hours free from plane noise during the night, the price we pay is a reduction in the respite from aircraft noise during the day.

Personally, I find the non-stop noise during the day just as distressing as being woken up at 4.30am.

Elizabeth Balsom

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