| CAMPAIGN UPDATE - AT A GLANCE
A summary of current events in SSE's campaign against expansion of Stansted Airport
and other recent news related to the expansion of airports and aviation - July 2014
Government slammed for "ducking the issues"
Stop Stansted Expansion has slammed the Government for "ducking all the important and controversial issues" in its response to the Airport Commission's interim report. SSE's verdict was echoed by business leaders who criticised the Government for deferring decisions on early morning flights and noise monitoring until after the next general election. In his interim report last December, Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, made a series recommendations for improving matters in the short and medium term while the Commission considered the case for an additional runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, or a new airport in the Thames Estuary. Brian Ross, SSE's economics adviser, said: "Having taken almost seven months to consider the Airport Commission's Interim Report, the Government's response is to do practically nothing, postponing all the major decisions, including the establishment of an Independent Noise Ombudsman, and simply extending the current night noise regime for another three years." He said that the 15 July statement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin was so meaningless that it read like an extract from "Yes Minister".
The Government’s response can be read here. In its report of the business reaction, The Telegraph says Patrick McLoughlin was accused of failing to explicitly acknowledge the need for additional airport capacity in the South East.
Winners and losers in proposed new departure routes
There should be clear and compelling benefits for local residents before any changes are introduced to departure routes from Stansted Airport, says Stop Stansted Expansion. SSE has issued guidance to enable local councils and residents to respond to a NATS consultation on proposed changes affecting routes to the south-east and east of Stansted that account for about half of all departures. The NATS proposal would remove daytime departures for a large area to the south-east of the airport but double the number of flights towards the east coast. NATS says the changes would reduce the number of people regularly overflown and reduce CO2 emissions. SSE's guidance includes an estimate that while 1,470 fewer people would be overflown by aircraft flying below 4,000ft, 2,400 people would be overflown more intensively. SSE has also calculated that the reduction in CO2 emissions would be less than 1%. Martin Peachey, SSE's noise adviser, said: "There would inevitably be winners and losers if these changes were implemented. Before making our response we will consult with our members over the proposed changes." Affected local communities are urged to respond to the NATS consultation which ends on 8 September. SSE's guidance document can be found here.
Luton Airport capacity to double
Luton Airport has been given the go-ahead for expansion to 18 million passengers a year. The airport handled just under 10 million passengers last year. Flights are expected to increase from 102,000 a year to 157,000 by 2028. Reacting to the news, Andrew Lambourne, from campaign group Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion, said: "The Government is hell-bent on expanding airport capacity in the south east, come what may, and regardless of the fact that 70% of the public who responded to the consultation over Luton Airport expansion said no." Construction to expand, modernise and remodel the terminal building to handle more passengers will take place over three phases. A new parallel taxiway and a multi-storey car park will also be built. The cost of the development is said to be £100m and all work should be completed by 2026. See The Comet 24 report.
Stansted traffic numbers on the up...
Stansted Airport's passenger numbers in June were 11.7% up on the same month last year and a total of 18.4 million annual passengers was recorded in the 12 months to June 2014, an increase of 4.2% from the 12 months to June 2013. However, this figure is still down 23.0% compared to the peak 12-month period in 2006/07. The number of flights in the 12 months to June 2014 was 133,805 (not the 134,666 figure reported by MAG), up 1.3% on the 12 months to June 2013. The 12-months total of flights is down 31% from the peak in 2006/07. Stansted's passenger and flight numbers are running at just above 50% of the airport's planning consent, which is for 35 million passengers per annum and 264,000 flights (ATMs). Stansted had a significant increase in cargo tonnage in the month of June due to the relocation of cargo airlines from Manston which has now closed. On a 12-month basis however, Stansted's cargo tonnage is still down 5.3% year on year.
...and for £2 you can park 'upstairs' again
Stansted's 'Express Set Down Zone' has returned to the front forecourt of the main terminal building with the same charges of £2 for 10 minutes and £3 for 15 minutes that applied when it was located in the short-stay car park. Residents of Uttlesford and East Herts can qualify for a 75% discount on these charges. Details and information on how to apply to join the scheme - free for local residents - can be found on the airport website on the Driving to Stansted page. However - a word of warning, if you stay over 15 minutes in the Set Down Zone, you will be liable to a £50 penalty charge, and there is no local discount on that.
Government underwrites Dundee-Stansted route
The Department for Transport has struck a deal with Dundee City Council to subsidise the newly established route between Stansted and this small Scottish airport. The DfT has signed a Public Service Obligation (PSO) to preserve the Dundee-Stansted link for two years. The £2.85m funding comes from the new Regional Air Connectivity fund announced by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. LoganAir operates two daily flights on the route. See the Herts and Essex Observer report.
More cold water poured on estuary hub
New reports say the cost of building a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary could rise by billions of pounds above previous estimates. The first of a number of feasibility reports commissioned by the Airports Commission says the cost of relocating wildlife alone may be £2bn. Architects Foster & Partners have challenged the £2bn figure and estimate the cost of relocating wildlife at around £500 million. Other feasibility reports look at the cost of surface access, socio-economic impacts and operational feasibility. They suggest that London Mayor Boris Johnson has considerably under-estimated the costs and over-estimated the benefits of an estuary airport. One report estimates that Heathrow's owners would be entitled to between £13.5 billion and £21.5 billion in compensation costs for the closure of Heathrow in order to make way for an estuary airport. See the New Civil Engineer report and also the BDonline report.
Lib-Dems to back second Gatwick runway?
The Liberal Democrats are said to be moving towards scrapping their blanket ban on airports in the South-East and will use their election manifesto to open the door to a second Gatwick runway while remaining opposed to a bigger Heathrow, according to the London Standard. The ban could be replaced with a series of tests on climate change and local pollution, as well as on levels of noise suffered by communities around airports. Lib-Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has hinted he may support a second Gatwick runway but is likely to face opposition from Lib-Dem members, says the London Standard. It is also expected that the Conservatives will drop their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, which was part of their green agenda in 2010.
Gatwick "would be bigger than Heathrow"
The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) says there will be a public backlash over a report recently submitted to the Airports Commission by Gatwick Airport Ltd. GACC says the projected capacity of the airport, with two runways, has been raised to 97 million passengers a year compared to the 87 million stated in the earlier consultation. That would make Gatwick much bigger than Heathrow today. GACC chairman Brendon Sewill described the plans as "horrendous" and says they would so infuriate local people that they will be determined to oppose the runway scheme at every stage.
See the Get Surrey report.
NATS and European airlines plan for growth
UK's air traffic controller, NATS, and the Association of European Airlines (AEA) have entered into a strategic partnership, the Single Europe Sky (SES), to consider how Europe's airspace could be better managed to cope with forecast growth in air traffic and reduce costs. NATS, the Civil Aviation Authority and various airlines and airports are also collaborating to deliver the Departure Planning Information (DPI) project, allowing UK airports to share real-time data with the broader European network from 2015. NATS says the move will reduce the impact of delays, allow for more efficient aircraft routing and provide greater certainty for ground handling crews at destination airports. See the Air Traffic Management report and also the Buying Business Travel report.
A Noise Scorecard should be introduced to evaluate the effect of aircraft noise on amenity, sleep disturbance, health and quality of life against "wellbeing indicators", says the Airports Commission in its Appraisal Framework. Meanwhile, British Airways has introduced a "happiness blanket" for passengers which glows red to show the well-being created by undisturbed sleep. "The blankets might register a very different colour if they were issued to local residents whose sleep was disturbed by night flights," quipped SSE's Brian Ross. See the Future Travel Experience report and also the New Civil Engineer report.
Ryanair: profits down but traffic up
Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Stansted's biggest customer, Ryanair, has described the airline's performance as disappointing after reporting its first drop in annual profits in five years. Post-tax profits were 8% lower at £426.5 million in the year to March 31 after a price war left average fares 4% lower at a time of rising fuel costs. But he said efforts since September to reinvent Ryanair's image and reputation helped passenger traffic rise 4% in the second half of the year. Changes have included the relaxation of bag restrictions for passengers, a reduction in baggage charges and an easing of booking conditions. See the EADT report.
US study confirms dangers of aircraft pollution
A study in the USA has found that air traffic can be a major contributor to air pollution up to 10 miles from an airport. Science World Report says past research into pollution from air traffic only sampled air within a couple of miles of the airports studied. In the latest study of Los Angeles airport, the sixth busiest in the world, researchers discovered that over a 23 square mile area, particle number concentrations were double that of background levels. Over a 9 square mile area, levels were five times higher than background and within just 2 miles of the airport, particle number levels were 10 times higher than background levels. The study confirms continual warnings by SSE's health adviser Professor Jangu Banatvala that aviation is a major contributor to air pollution that can have serious effects on people's health.
Southend's passengers grow but profits dip
Passenger numbers at Southend Airport have grown by 38% to over a million and a newly completed terminal extension has raised its capacity to five million. The airport has entered into a partnership with low-cost carrier Flybe to launch a new airline, Stobart Air, which will use two Flybe aircraft to launch six new routes to Europe. However, Stobart Group reported that earnings from its aviation division fell from £400,000 to £100,000 last year. See the Travel Mole report.
Manston's closure opposed
Protesters opposing the closure of Manston airport have delivered a petition to Thanet Council urging the local authority to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on the site. See the Thanet Gazette report.
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