| 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 - 14 August 2014
Stansted flight paths: wait for the full picture, says SSE
Proposed changes to Stansted Airport's departure routes should be postponed until the next phase of the London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP) and after the Government makes its decision on the Airports Commissionís final report, Stop Stansted Expansion has recommended. The NATS proposal involves switching daytime flights (6am to 11pm) from the existing south east (Dover) departure routes to the existing east (Clacton) departure routes. These account for half of all departures. Departures to the west of the airport would not be affected, nor would arrival routes. NATS says the proposed changes would reduce C02, reduce delay for Stansted and other airports, and lower the number of people regularly overflown during the day. SSE however, having closely examined the proposed changes, has concluded they offer negligible benefits and would have serious adverse noise impacts on many local communities. SSE's believes that any changes to departure routes should await the next LAMP phase which is expected 2-3 years from now and will involve significant redesign of the Stansted routes. SSE is encouraging residents to respond to this latest consultation that closes on 8 September 2014. For guidance and how to respond see here.
Open debate needed on Stansted's long term plan
SSE is calling for an open debate about Stansted's new long term plan. The 'Sustainable Development Plan' (SDP) for Stansted was due to be published by Manchester Airport Group (MAG) at the end of July but was for some reason postponed at the last minute and is now expected in early September. MAG, which bought Stansted 18 months ago, will use the SDP to set out what it intends to do with the airport over the next 20-25 years. The SDP will initially be published as a draft for consultation and a final version of the plan is expected towards the end of the year. SSE welcomes this initiative by MAG and wants to encourage maximum public participation in the consultation process. MAG will be making 'roadshow' presentations in the weeks following the publication of its draft SDP. Importantly, the SDP is understood to be based on Stansted remaining as a single runway airport but this still leaves scope for the airport to handle almost twice as many passengers and twice as many flights as it does today. SSE wants to see a gradual phasing out of night flights at Stansted and this issue will be high on its agenda in the consultation on the SDP. MAG's continued ownership of about 270 properties around the airport - mostly acquired in connection with the now-aborted second runway plans - is another highly contentious issue for local communities who want them returned to private ownership. The forthcoming consultation and roadshows will give those communities most affected an opportunity to persuade MAG "to do the decent thing in this regard," says SSE. See the SSE Press Release.
SSE makes further submission to Airports Commission
SSE's latest submission to the Airports Commission is in response to the Commission's discussion paper on 'Utilisation of the UK's Existing Airport Capacity'. This is SSE's eleventh submission to the Commission since January 2013 when the Commission issued its first call for evidence. All of SSE's evidence submissions to the Commission are listed and can be accessed here.
Stansted's busiest month
Stansted reports that it had its busiest month in almost three years. More than 1.9m passengers passed through the airport in July, up 12.2 per cent on the same month last year and the busiest four-week total since August 2011. Annual passenger numbers have been boosted by an extra 1 million to 18.7m, the highest annual figure since November 2010 and an increase of 5.6 per cent over the previous year. The airport says passenger numbers have risen at an average of 8 per cent a month since the start of 2014. See the Herts & Essex Observer report.
London airports report record traffic
Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton airports have all reported record numbers of passengers in July. Heathrow said passenger numbers totalled 6.97m in July, up 0.5 per cent on the same month last year. This growth was propelled by flights to emerging markets, with the number of passengers to Mexico up 15.4 per cent and to China up by 10.4 per cent. Meanwhile, Gatwick handled 4.1m passengers in July, up 6.0 per cent on last year, the increase coming from more established routes to Europe and America. Luton reported a record number of passengers in June and July and expects a similar picture in August.
See the City A.M. report and also the Luton on Sunday report.
Majority reject all Gatwick expansion options
A poll among people living near Gatwick has underlined opposition to its expansion plans and given rise to accusations that the airport attempted to conceal some of the figurers. The poll revealed that of the 3,304 people who expressed an opinion about the three different runway expansion options being put forward Gatwick Airport, 2,165 said they didn't want any of them. Brendon Sewill, chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) said the results were "a foretaste of the nation-wide opposition to any new runway". According to the report, thousands of responses organised by The Woodland Trust were excluded from the final figures. Mr Sewill said: "They [Gatwick Airport Limited] claim that 4,003 responses were the result of a campaign by The Woodland Trust and can therefore be disregarded. We do not agree. Many of these responses contained specific comments and were thus not just the result of clicking a button." See the Crawley & Horley Observer report.
Campaign to boost Harwich to Stansted link
The Haven Gateway Partnership has appointed a PR company as part of its plans to upgrade the A120 that links the port of Harwich to Stansted Airport. The PR firm will work with stakeholders and central government and lobby for funding to upgrade the route. See the PR Week report.
Boris's Heathrow dilemma
The news that London Mayor Boris Johnson will stand for a seat at the next general election and that Uxbridge and South Ruislip is likely to be the favourite constituency, raises the question as to whether this will change his attitude towards the future of Heathrow, reports the New Statesman. The airport is one of the biggest local employers but the London Mayor has called for it to be closed down in favour of a new hub in the Thames Estuary. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson's office has launched a counter-attack against claims that a Thames Estuary airport would be too costly to build. The Mayor's aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, said the claims were based on "half-baked calculations". See the New Statesman report and also the London Evening Standard report.
Heathrow expansion would threaten regional airports
Gatwick Airport has claimed that the future of UK regional airports would be under threat if Heathrow were to be allowed a third runway. Gatwick's latest submission to the Airports Commission argues that a third runway at Heathrow would threaten the commercial viability of other UK airports by reducing choice and giving Heathrow too much market power. Gatwick also argues that this would reintroduce an element of monopoly that existed in the UK airport market before the Competition Commission forced BAA to sell some of its airports. Gatwick said that regional airports "play a vital role" by increasing competition, improving consumer choice and keeping airfares low. See the Buying Business Travel report.
APD is an "attack on the regions"
Flybe has attacked air passenger duty (APD) for its disproportionate impact on smaller regional airports. The airline has hit out at "an institutional bias against the promotion and development of regional aviation in the UK" and urged the Government to reform APD, which it branded "a tax on the regions", arguing that current policy clashes with the aim of developing a more balanced economy. See the Exeter Express & Echo report.
Get real about airport expansion, say RSPB and WWF
The RSPB, WWF and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) recently held a parliamentary event, "On a Wing and a Prayer: let's get real about the consequences of airport expansion" to launch two new reports on the global and local environmental impacts of airport expansion, and the alternatives. See the WWF report.
Survey claims half favour expansion at their local airport
Some 47 per cent of people who live close to Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick, Stansted and London City favour expansion for the airport they're closest to, a government survey claims. Only 20 per cent were against expansion. In 2010, those figures were 41 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. Separate Populus data from earlier this year indicated that 48 per cent of residents living around Heathrow Airport supported a third Heathrow runway. "Since 2010 we have listened to local residents and developed a new approach to a third runway at Heathrow that delivers the benefits of growth but with less impact for local people," said John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Airport CEO. See the Opodo report.
Noisy planes "seven times an hour"
A Braintree pensioner has claimed that low-flying planes disturb his peace up to seven times an hour. Peter Wood, 69, has noticed planes flying over his house every ten minutes in the last six weeks and says he has wasted time improving a home he might now have to leave. He said that since he moved there last year he had been used to hearing one or two planes a day. Stansted Airport said more aircraft have been taking off from a particular runway because of easterly winds. See the Braintree & Witham Times report.
Gatwick's noise pledge is just "small bribes"...
Campaigners have dismissed as "small bribes" a list of pledges by Gatwick Airport to ease disquiet over plans for a second runway. The airport has set aside £250million for infrastructure, noise insulation and apprenticeships which, they say, is in addition to the £90billion economic boost and 120,000 jobs that a second Gatwick runway would deliver. Business groups welcomed the gesture but campaigners dismissed it as "small bribes". Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) said: "If Gatwick has suddenly found itself so flush with funds, why are they not offering proper compensation to all those that will suffer." Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: "We've listened to local people and have created a wide range of pledges to deliver improvements in many of the areas that matter to them most, from new jobs and housing, to business support and noise mitigation." A Home Owners Support Scheme will be used to buy homes subjected to high levels of aircraft noise. Properties that need to be purchased will get compensation worth 25% more than the market value. See The Argus report.
...and another group threatens court challenge
Legal action may be mounted against Gatwick Airport over the consultation on aircraft noise that has just closed, campaign group CAGNE has said. Fundraising among residents in the High Weald Area of Natural Beauty, Edenbridge and Tunbridge Wells has begun to raise £70,000 to challenge the case in court. The proposal affects Gatwick routes below 4,000ft and suggests a narrow flight path rather than the current dispersed one. There will be one corridor for daytime flights and another for night flights, which local residents are concerned will bring more aircraft over their area. See The Courier report.
Ryanair to repay state aid
Ryanair must repay about £7.8m in illegal state aid it received from France for operating at three small regional airports, Nimes, Pau Pyrenees and Angouleme. The European Commission said the French support, which consisted of contractual rebates and marketing deals, gave the world's biggest low-cost airline an unfair advantage. Ryanair said it would appeal the "erroneous" decision. See The Telegraph report.
Lloyd Webber opposes Stansted expansion and backs Boris Island
Andrew Lloyd Webber has come out in favour of replacing Heathrow with a Thames Estuary hub airport and opposing the expansion of Stansted. In an article in the London Evening Standard, he says: "In short, the environmental and economic gains of shutting Heathrow and building a new airport on the Isle of Grain are so overwhelming that they must outweigh the short-term nature of Heathrow's outmoded vested interests. Heathrow is past its sell-by date. We should follow the example of so many other countries and build an airport for today and tomorrow. With apologies to local resident Jools Holland and his neighbours, the Isle of Grain is the right place." He says the solution lies eastwards, adding, "I would strongly oppose developing Stansted - already too much of the Essex and Suffolk countryside has been adversely affected by overflying. Similarly, Gatwick blights far too much of the Weald. We have seriously to consider so-called Boris Island, otherwise known as the Isle of Grain." See the London Evening Standard report.
Is Ryanair looking beyond Europe?
Ryanair has hinted at plans to offer cheap flights beyond Europe as it courts the Cypriot government in a suspected attempt to use the country as a base for services to the Middle East and Russia, reports The Telegraph. The budget airline, which reported at 152pc surge in first quarter profits, said it would be "very keen" to expand in southern Europe amid rumours it is considering buying Cyprus Airways.
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