| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - From April 2017
NEXT GOVERNMENT 'MUST CONSIDER
SECOND RUNWAY AT STANSTED', SAYS IOD
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
LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT SETS
NEW PASSENGER RECORD FOR APRIL
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
CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR STANSTED AIRPORT
FLIGHT PATH CHANGES TO BE REVERSED
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.
AIR POLLUTION PLAN: SACRIFICING THE NATION'S
HEALTH TO SAVE AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN
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.
MPS CRITICISE GOVERNMENT OVER
CARBON 'FANTASY' HEATHROW EXPANSION
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.
GOVERNMENT PRESSES AHEAD WITH THIRD RUNWAY PLAN
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.
LETTER OF THE DAY: ACTION NOT WORDS
ON NIGHT-FLIGHT BAN
"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.
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