| 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 2017
Don't be hoodwinked by Stansted spin
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has warned residents across the region not to be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport's smoke-and-mirrors exhibition and biased consultation survey on further expansion plans. The airport's roadshow and related survey appear designed to trick people into thinking that further expansion at the airport will be painless and sustainable - before the environmental impacts have even been assessed. "The portrayal of the potential impacts that would arise from further expansion at Stansted is deliberately misleading and the public should be very, very sceptical about the claims being made to try to push through its proposals," commented SSE deputy chairman Brian Ross. "The airport's so-called roadshow has all the hallmarks of a sales pitch for time-share apartments. It's about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives." SSE has produced a two-page information sheet entitled What's the Rush? What's the Truth? to enable visitors to the roadshow events during July to challenge the airport's claims that the proposed increase in flights and passenger numbers would have "no significant adverse environmental effects". See the SSE Press Release.
The facts behind the flannel
Stansted currently handles 25 million passengers per annum (mppa) and has permission for 35mppa. Manchester Airports Group (MAG) which owns Stansted says that figure 'urgently' needs to be raised to 44.5mppa. This would mean almost 20 million more passengers and an extra 104,000 flights a year, compared to today. On average it would mean a flight every 85 seconds during the day, compared to every 2¼ minutes now. Noise, air quality and traffic impacts would all be significantly greater in contrast to the airport's claim that there will be 'no significant adverse environmental effects'. Anyone wishing to comment on the airport's proposals can do so by sending their comments as an attachment by email to email@example.com with the words CONSULTATION RESPONSE TO UTT/17/1640/SO in subject header or by using the online 'Make a Comment' facility on the UDC website.
SSE launches 2017 Fighting Fund
"We're counting on you so you can count on us" says SSE as it launches an appeal for its Fighting Fund to tackle the latest threat from Stansted Airport. The airport is preparing to submit a planning application that would see passenger numbers rise significantly over the next 12 years to 44.5mppa. Support is needed to enable SSE to examine every detail of the airport's plans as they emerge. This is the link if you wish to make a donation.
Business leaders want more runways
The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called for the next government to build two more runways and demanded that a follow-up Airports Commission be established only months after Heathrow's third runway was approved. The IoD wants a fast-track commission to be set up to recommend locations for two additional runways within a year, reports The Guardian. The controversial expansion of Heathrow is not expected to be completed before at least 2026. The IoD says that the Airports Commission underestimated demand for air travel and said Gatwick would also be full before Heathrow was expanded. See The Guardian report.
Heathrow go-ahead despite Queen's Speech omission...
Despite no mention of Heathrow's third runway in the Queen's Speech, Transport Minister Lord Callanan has confirmed that the Government remains committed to the £17.5 billion project. The omission, which Lord Callanan said was simple because the matter did not require any legislation, led to speculation that enthusiasm for expansion has waned in Downing Street and the Department for Transport, according to Simon Calder, the Independent's travel correspondent. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a staunch opponent of a third runway, has vowed to fight expansion "to the very last ditch". Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis, has warned that a hard Brexit would be a "calamity" for the UK and jeopardise the expansion at Heathrow. See The Independent report.
...but not according to some MPs
As many as 40 Conservative MPs are opposed to a third runway at Heathrow and have warned that a manifesto pledge to expand the airport will not go ahead following Theresa May's failure to secure a majority in the election, says The Telegraph. Labour are divided on the issue and their election manifesto only committed the party to expand Britain's airport capacity. Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond, Tweeted: "Heathrow expansion... not going to happen." He told The Sun that Heathrow expansion faced legal challenges by local authorities and "appalling" air pollution implications. See The Telegraph report.
Meanwhile, Heathrow continues to grow...
For the 12 months to June 2017, Heathrow catered for a record 77 million passengers, The UK's busiest airport has been operating at full capacity, in terms of the number of flights it can handle, for the past 20 years but over that same period Heathrow has still managed to achieve a 33% increase in the number of passengers it has been able to handle. Larger aircraft and fewer empty seats have enabled that remarkable achievement.
...as does Gatwick, which tops 45mppa
Gatwick reported record traffic numbers for June and a 52nd consecutive month of growth. The UK's second busiest airport handled 4.4 million passengers in June - an increase of 5.6% on the same month last year - bringing the airport's annual passenger total to a new record of 45.1 million, reinforcing its position as the world's busiest single runway airport. Gatwick's cargo volumes also showed substantial growth in June, rising by 20.6%, helped by its fast growing network of long-haul routes. Gatwick's long-haul traffic is up 14% on the year and long-haul now accounts for one in five of Gatwick's passengers. (By comparison: long-haul routes at Stansted account for less than one in a hundred of its passengers.) See the ITV News report.
Stansted and Luton June numbers awaited
At time of going to press Stansted and Luton have not yet reported their June traffic statistics. However, for the year to May, Stansted passenger numbers were up 5.9% on the previous year to 24.7 million and Luton numbers were up 16.2% to 15.3 million.
MAG won't listen says Stansted noise complainer
A petition has been launched by a local resident to restrict planes flying low over Harlow and Roydon on their way to and from Stansted Airport. Harlow resident Lee Munden is angered by the noise and disturbance of aircraft. "Some people say that you just get used to it, but you should not have to get used to it," he said. Mr Munden was told in a meeting with Stansted's owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) why planes fly at a certain height over Harlow and that it is within UK airspace guidelines. Following the meeting, Mr Munden commented: "The airport has no intention of changing anything. The public have rights but they are not able to exercise their rights because of the way the big guys operate." See the Essex Live report.
British airlines fail to make 'Oscars'...
British airlines got the thumbs-down in the World Airlines Awards when not a single British airline was rated in the top 30. British Airways tumbled from 26th place last year to 40th position. EasyJet slipped from number 38 to 41, whilst Ryanair improved its ranking, rising from 108 to 76. Qatar came top of the table in this year's 'airline Oscars'. See the Travel Mole report.
...but Heathrow makes World's Top Ten Airports
For the fifth consecutive year Singapore?s Changi Airport has been named the world's best airport at the prestigious annual Skytrax World Airport Awards. Heathrow was the only UK airport to make the top 10, scraping in at 9th position. Further down the list, London City Airport was ranked in 36th position, Gatwick 51st and Birmingham 85th. Stansted did not make the top 100.
Scotland to replace Air Passenger Duty
The Scottish Parliament has voted to replace the tax paid by passengers on flights from Scotland's airports. Air Passenger Duty (APD) with a new devolved Air Departure Tax (ADT) from April next year. The rate at which the tax is set is likely to be more controversial when it is decided later this year, says the BBC. The Scottish Government wants the new ADT to be set at just 50% of APD, before eventually scrapping it completely. Opponents are concerned about the environmental impact of more flights, and claim the cut would mainly benefit wealthy travellers and big business. See the BBC News report.
New community forum tackles noise
A total of 37 airport community groups from around the UK's leading airports, including SSE, recently formed the Aviation Communities Forum (ACF) to lobby government on aircraft noise and emissions. They are demanding "ambitious targets" for aircraft noise reduction to be set at every major UK airport. Successive governments have prioritised growth in flight numbers at the expense of the health and wider well-being of people impacted by aircraft noise and emissions, the group says. The ACF is calling for a new, balanced, aviation noise policy and an independent aviation noise regulator with powers to drive noise reduction. It says that if aviation noise cannot be brought below acceptable thresholds people should be fully compensated. See the Travel Weekly report.
"Polluter pays" should apply to aviation noise, says SSE
SSE has called on the Government to set firmer targets to reduce aviation noise pollution and to establish a new independent body with powers to enforce noise reduction. SSE's comments are set out in its response to the recent Government's Airspace Policy consultation which is looking at ways in which airspace changes and environmental impacts are managed. Where aviation noise cannot be brought below acceptable levels, people should be fully compensated for its adverse effects, in line with the widely accepted polluter pays principle. The Department for Transport's policy that includes "sharing benefits of noise reduction between industry and communities in support of sustainable development" offers weaker, not better, environmental protection, says SSE. See the SSE report.
Record profits for Ryanair...
Ryanair, Europe's largest carrier by passenger numbers, reported record annual profits despite sharp falls in average fares due to overcapacity and Britain's vote to leave the EU. It promised higher profits and lower fares next year. The airline flies 1,800 daily flights across 33 countries. It flew 120 million passengers in the year to the end of March, up from an initial estimate of 116 million. Its target of 130 million passengers in the year to March 2018 implies growth of around 8 percent, down from 13 percent this year. See the Reuters report.
...but will it continue?
Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, was recently quoted as saying that the airline may have to stop selling flights to and from the UK at the end of 2018 if Britain and the EU fail to agree a post-Brexit aviation deal. He said the airline was prepared for a "worst-case scenario" where the UK is no longer part of the EU's Open Skies air transport treaty after Britain leaves Europe in March 2019. See the Irish Times report.
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