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London Heathrow Expansion: 3d Runway = Runaway Climate Breakdown
Even before the intended £18billion further expansion, Heathrow was the UK’s biggest emitter of Greenhouse Gases at a time of Climate Breakdown emergency. Another runway would boost current flights of 480,000 to 740,000 seeing passengers rise to 132 million effectively creating a new airport the size of London Gatwick.
Article by Rising Tide UK
Losing Case on the Climate
On May Day the adjudication was passed down with humanity losing the case on the climate, environment, air quality, noise, wildlife & pollution grounds. Pretty much the judgment seemed to suggest we morally won but lost on The Law, which, as we all know is distinctly different to Justice. Victory for “business as usual” for the head-in-sand buried ostrich judiciary, our immoral government and bottom liners Heathrow Ltd, all oblivious to the oblivion of Climate Breakdown in full swing.
However Plan B & FoE(EW&NI) on 8th May have now appealed against this despairing Judgement.
In Paragraph 586 of the Judgement the Law Lords say “For the sake of completeness, we should add that Plan B Earth also asked the Secretary of State to review the A-NPS under section 6 of the PA (Planning Act) 2008 on the basis that the development of scientific knowledge as reflected in the Paris Agreement was a “significant change in circumstances” upon which the policy had been decided. By letter dated 27 November 2018, that request was declined. That decision was judicially reviewable, but no challenge was made.
The day after the Judgement on 2nd May, in a new soon to be used dictionary definition of “irony”, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK Government’s advisory body on Climate Breakdown, “complete” with an enormous coach & horses 3rd runway sized hole, published their long awaited, hopefully not posthumous Report on incorporating/updating the UK’s Climate Budgets/Policy/Targets – to take account of the Paris Accord’s targets which the government have so far failed to take account of or act upon.They did say though that the UK’s planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2.
Climate & Ecological Emergency declared
“Parliament’s recognition yesterday of the existence of a climate and ecological emergency; and the publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s report, which recommends a net zero target for 2050.”
UK Committee on Climate Change not taking Aviation serious enough
“The UK can end its contribution to global warming within 30 years by setting an ambitious new target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Ten years after the Climate Change Act became law, now is the right moment to set a more ambitious goal. Achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change………This is a crucial time in the global effort to tackle climate change. Global average temperature has already risen by 1°C from pre-industrial levels, driving changes in our climate that are apparent increasingly……… Net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to further limit the rise to 1.5°C. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasised the vital importance of limiting further warming to as low a level as possible and the need for deep and rapid emissions reductions in order to do so. The CCC’s recommended targets, which cover all sectors of the UK, Scottish and Welsh economies, are achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and should be put into law as soon as possible, the Committee says.”
“Air travel will become more expensive because of the slow development of alternatives to polluting kerosene to power planes. Air passengers may be required to pay to offset the costs of their emissions from 2035.”
The report advocates frequent flyers — the 15 per cent of people responsible for 70 per cent of flights — “to catch trains and cut down on long-haul travel”. The allusion to the off-setting of CO2 by planting trees panders to Heathrow Chief Executive Holland-Kaye, who has argued for some time it can off-set its CO2 emissions from a 3rd runway by restoring peat bogs, reiterated in the Daily Torygraph article from 2nd May “Heathrow is flying the flag for zero-carbon aviation”. We kid you not.
The reason for the scarcity & weakness is revealed first on page 35 of the Executive Summary to the Report:
Aviation……….ICAO and IMO, the international agencies for aviation and shipping, have adopted targets to tackle emissions. The scenarios in this report go beyond those targets, suggesting increased ambition and stronger levers will be required in the long run. We will write to the Government later this year on its approach to aviation, building on the advice in this report.
Conflicting Policy Announcements
……so we are expecting that there will be capacity constraints once more, even with a third runway at Heathrow. …….Given that we don’t expect that runway to be operational until 2026 we’ve also made a policy statement around all other airports being able to make best use of their existing runways to ensure that we make the most of that existing capacity that’s there in that meantime across the South East. ………So the forecast that we have, showed that capacity in the South East up to 2030 will be well-served with an additional runway at Heathrow, but there may be a need for a runway beyond that looking out to 2050.
So even with a 3rd runway they were/are looking to have that capacity from South-East existing runways and maybe further unfettered lunatic 4th runway expansion too.
Then on 11th May according to this report “Climate change ‘may curb growth in UK flying“, in a letter to Plan B, the Department for Transport (DfT) Aviation Head Caroline Low said: “It may be necessary to consider the CCC’s recommended policy approach for aviation.” – meaning ministers may have to review aviation strategy.
The Government can either take the necessary action to avoid climate breakdown or it can stick to ‘business as usual’ and expand aviation, the most polluting mode of transport but it can’t have it both ways.
Stop Heathrow Expansion
We must stop Heathrow expansion for any hope of the UK making a fair contribution to the Paris Agreement. As above, both Plan B and Friends of the Earth (EW&NI) are appealing the JR. This is an expensive process. In particular Plan B are a small charity bringing the case directly with the support of a network of volunteer lawyers and they need to raise funds to cover potential cost liability. Please help fight for our common future by donating: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/no-to-heathrow/ #NoToHeathrow #YesToOur Future
In the meantime of the JR Appeal being heard, Heathrow Ltd are drawing up their detailed plans for the new runway as part of the DCO process. After publishing a Master Plan (detailing what goes where and a new terminal 6), these plans (including moving the M25 London orbital motorway) will be consulted upon. Currently this is targeted from June 2019 (including the Environmental Impact Assessment) in an 18-month process where views will be sought on the proposed scheme for expansion and how Heathrow will manage and mitigate the effects of this growth on local communities (that means wiping out local villages!). The consultation is statutory and Heathrow is required by Government to hold it to determine the preferred plan for expansion. After this consultation the DCO will be submitted in 2020 under the Planning Act 2008. The DCO application will include requests for a range of powers and authorisations, including powers for the compulsory acquisition of land.
All this with a view to going before a Planning Inquiry later in 2020 when there will be another chance to challenge Heathrow at this Public Inquiry stage when the DCO submission is made to the Planning Inspectorate. This is required for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) like Heathrow. The original JR Judgement & the Government’s Barrister both said that the JR arguments made may be more appropriate to that stage.
However, following a public examination period led by the Planning Inspectorate, any recommendation by the Public Inquiry Planning Inspector would merely be advisory for the Secretary of State to make a decision which can be, for political reasons…..and currently that person is the terminally incompetent Secretary of State for Nincompoops, sorry Transport, Chris “failing” Grayling, who wasted £50bn on now cancelled post-Brexit contracts, some for ferry companies who owned no ferries; was responsible for multitudinous rail timetabling and franchising cock-ups; and is responsible for the looming concrete eating Hi-Speed Rail 2 project to save 15 minutes from London to Birmingham.
Heathrow would be looking to get the DCO granted with final permission in 2021 and to open the new runway in 2026 after starting to build just before the scheduled UK General Election in 2022.
Heathrow Airspace & Future Operations Consultation
- Runway alternation in West London would be cut from half a day to a third of the day, to allow for alternation on a third runway if it is built and the consultation asked for views on how this should be implemented;
- Significant changes to airspace were proposed to allow for vast swathes of London and the Home Counties, which currently get all-day flying, to get noise respite for the first time, applying to both arrivals and departures ;
- The night period when there are no scheduled flights allowed would be extended from 5 hours to six and a half hours and views were sought on how this should operate;
- Views were also sought on whether ‘westerly operation’ should remain – this is where aeroplanes continue to fly as if a west wind is blowing when there is an east wind (of up to 5 knots);
- plus steeper approaches to runways;
Aviation Green Paper on Future Strategy
The final (probably “White”) Paper will be finalized and planned for release in the second half of 2019. However, for presumably the above reasons, the consultation period was extended until 20th June. Please make your views known.
In summary the Green Paper:
- sets out to cater for the significant growth in flying it predicts will take place in the UK and around the world;
- argues that this growth can take place without exceeding the UK’s aviation climate targets (how we all laughed in tragedy);
- assumes a third runway will be built at London Heathrow;
- contains some proposals on noise that some campaigners have been lobbying for over many years;
- describes the implications of the move from ground-based technology to satellite technology when designing flight paths;
- and sets out measures to improve and monitor air pollution from aircraft.
“aviation’s share of emissions is likely to continue to increase as other sectors decarbonise more quickly. This means that aviation could represent 25% of the UK’s (My addition:-much then) smaller budget for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”
- A “long term vision and pathway for addressing UK aviation’s impact on climate change” which will be kept under review to take account of new technological, improved operational efficiencies, market-based measures, sustainable fuels as well as demand management and behaviour change.”;
- “to negotiate in ICAO (the UN body responsible for tackling international aviation climate emissions) for a long term goal for international aviation that is consistent with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement” ; and
- “to support and strengthen the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).”. – This has a discredited reputation as an international scheme for aviation to off-set its emissions.
These measures proposed are inadequate and untested. There is no guarantee the rest of the world will play ball in agreeing to a long term goal to cut emissions from international aviation or even to accept a tougher off-setting scheme. Equally, while technology is likely to result in cleaner aircraft, the timescales remain uncertain and it won’t deliver that necessary. In addition to a higher emissions reduction target, this ailing Government needs to commit to publicly monitor the progress being made, by much stronger demand management measures and regulation will be required.