Shutting down an airport. Officially. Legally. For good. It sounds like the impossible dream. Wild. Impracticable. Impossible in this day and age. It sounds even more ridiculous to claim that it will benefit the economy.
Yet that is exactly what a new report published today by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) claims will happen if London City Airport closes. Royal Docks Revival: Replacing City Airport, commissioned by the campaign group HACAN East, shows that, if City Airport were shut down, the land freed up would be able to cater for businesses which produced many more jobs and created a lot more income than the airport does.
The stats are convincing. City Airport contributes £750 million each year to the UK economy. The nearby Excel Centre, which occupies roughly the same amount of space as the airport, contributes £1.3 billion. City Airport employs the equivalent of 1,900 full-time jobs. The proposed Silvertown Quays development, just along the road, estimates it will employ 9,000. Even if that turns out to be an overestimate, the difference remains huge. But the report’s emphasis is more about replacing the airport with community-run businesses rather than with more big corporations.
The closure of London City would not add to the pressure to expand Heathrow or any other London Airport. City only accounts for 2.4% of the traffic at the London airports, easily absorbed by the other airports.
Currently the airport messes up the local community with noise and air pollution. The local choir who sang at the launch said they couldn’t perform outside because of the noise of the planes. The airport also contributes to CO2 emissions. What could be cooler than closing it down. This report shows that would also benefit the economy.
From England to France to Germany resistance right now to airport expansion across the world is rife. The wave of reistance appears to of now made it way now to Toronto.
This week, Toronto council voted unanimously, 44 - 0, to accept the city manager's report calling for way more study on the proposed addition of jets to the inner harbour airport.
This is a resounding victory as Porter Airlines was looking for a conditional approval. No dice! Now, they must fund many, many studies on its potential impact.
The City made it clear it won't spend a nickel on infrastructure. This saddles the Port Authority (a federal patronage trough of an agency), which operates the airport, to come up with $300 million - and that's just for groundside infrastructure improvements, let alone all the necessary additions to the airport, including the 400 metre runway extension.
No one wants to fund this. Passenger levies wouldn't work (unless they saddle them with $100 building fees, or something that would turn customers away). What's even better, the council won't consider this again until next year after the next municipal election when we're hoping the left wing Olivia Chow gets in; the only mayoral candidate dead set against jets downtown. We can take a well-earned break for a bit.
This blog was first written by an aviation campaigner from Toronto but has been edited by Plane Stupid.
HACAN (Heathrow Association for Control of Aircraft Noise) and Zac Goldsmith MP have announced today a new video competition against expansion of Heathrow Airport.
The project is called 'No Ifs, No Buts' in reference to David Cameron's promise before the last election to rule out expansion at Heathrow. "Yet within 30 months of taking power he set up a commission to look again at the question of a new runway" the website says.
We like video competitions and this one has a first prize of £10,000 and celebrity judges including actor Hugh Grant. Tempted? To find out more details and to enter the competition see http://www.no-ifs-no-buts.com/ and follow @videoheathrow
Zac Goldsmith MP said:
“The competition is open to absolutely everyone, and will be judged on the night by a high profile panel, as well as the audience itself. Among the submissions, I’m looking for some really powerful messages that will be taken up on social and conventional media, and ram home the message that Heathrow expansion is not only the wrong solution for our economy, it is politically undeliverable."
“A green light for Heathrow expansion is effectively a green light for a vast, foreign-owned and taxpayer-subsidised monopoly on one edge of our great city. The Chancellor needs to stop being led by the lobby groups and think the issue through himself.”
HACAN Chair John Stewart said:
“Many people are hugely disappointed that David Cameron has gone back on his promise not to build a new runway at Heathrow. This ‘No ifs; no buts’ competition can highlight that.”
Angry at Frankfurt Airport expansion plans? For years at Frankfurt, campaigners against the expansion of Frankfurt airport have been squatting the forest of Kelsterbach, where the airport's bosses plan to clearcut 100,000 trees to build a new runway. The new runway would double the number of flights, destroying any last remnant of peace and quiet for local residents.
On February 22nd, Plane Stupid's Dan Glass will join a UK delegation which includes John Stewart from HACAN to run a direct action training in Frankfurt. Germany, here we come again!
Easily one of the most comprehensive reviews of aviations impact on the environment, 'Plane Truth' has all the facts required to destroy the aviation industrys arguments for expansion.
Author Rose Bridger is clear that we cannot have endless aviation expansion by simply creating quieter and more efficient planes. The effect of more efficient planes is minimal at best and profit seeking greenwash at worst. The chapter on alternative fuels is one of the best as Rose proves that alternative fuels such as biofuel and others are both unproven and totally unsustainable.
Despite the introduction of cheaper flights over the last two decades Rose points out that "flight remains the preserve of a small minority, who are, in global terms, affluent" but yet the impact of these emissions has implications for everyone.
Rose picks apart the economic case for expansion by for example looking at the tourism deficit in the UK which highlights how more money actually leaves the UK through aviation than income made from inbound tourists. She also highlights how the aviation industry is one of the most subsidised industrys here in the UK but also in the US and other countries round the world. In the UK aviation pays no VAT and is exempt from paying tax on its fuel.
Do we as a country want to protect lifestyle habits of primarily the rich while devastating efforts to combat climate change in the process? After reading this book the answer to this question is a big fat NO.
Plane Stupid have been back in the news again recently after the interim report on future aviation policy was published. Here is an article one of our members wrote in The Guardian.
Deja vu or political incompetence? The Independent on Sunday has revealed that Tuesday's interim report on the future of the UK's airport expansion policy, chaired by Howard Davies, will set out three options for extra capacity in the south-east, and they all involve the expansion of Heathrow. Like it or not, we're back where we were in 2009 when the Labour government supported Heathrow expansion. But we didn't need it then and we don't need it now.
How have we got here? Over the last few years, since the decision of government to rule out expansion at Heathrow and at the other major airports in the south-east, we have seen a massive corporate lobbying campaign. Heathrow has spent millions of pounds on lobbying for expansion, some of which you may have seen in advertised in newspapers and on the London tube.
All this corporate lobbying has resulted in a hijacking of the debate, convincing the public that we are facing an aviation capacity crisis. This has never been true and is something that Davies is said to be pointing out in his report.
The truth is that Heathrow has long been Europe's biggest hub airport. Already more passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world, and the airport has more flights to the top business destinations than any other in Europe. A study published in April this year by Hacan, which campaigns against noise at Heathrow, showed that nine of the 10 top destinations served by the airport are shorthaul. Plenty of capacity could become available if we moved most of these journeys to alternative and less polluting methods of travel, such as rail on routes from London to Paris and Edinburgh, which are the fifth and sixth most popular destinations.
Additionally, we cannot afford to forget that a third and/or fourth runway at Heathrow would have devastating implications for climate change. There was a warning in 2009 that a third runway would result in 220,000 extra flights a year; in emission terms, this is equivalent to the entire country of Kenya's annual output. Ensuring that the UK meets its target of cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 will be impossible if any of the options proposed by Davies are taken up. The transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said on Sunday that the government "haven't ruled anything out yet" but he must take into consideration that any U-turn will create a policy that is mutually incompatible with the Climate Change Act 2008.
There is so much at stake. Anyone living in west London can tell you about the noise pollution. There is also the issue of local communities that have been blighted by this political football for so long now. Zac Goldsmith MP still threatens to resign if there is a U-turn; Boris Johnson is going berserk. The locally embedded protest camp Grow Heathrow, in the village of Sipson in Middlesex which faces full demolition, now finds itself right at the heart of the resistance.
Last Friday, meteorologist Eric Holthaus posted an article to Quartz explaining the newly released IPCC climate report. The gist of the article, as encapsulated by its headline (“The world’s best scientists agree: On our current path, global warming is irreversible—and getting worse”) was far from optimistic.
But then Holthaus, who until recently covered weather for the Wall Street Journal, did something surprising. He turned to Twitter to declare that, on the heels of the report, he was going to take drastic action to reduce his own carbon footprint:
"I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I've never cried because of a science report before. #IPCC" followed by "I realized, just now: This has to be the last flight I ever take. I'm committing right now to stop flying. It's not worth the climate."
Speaking over the phone with Salon from his home in Viroqua, Wis., where he’s grounded himself, Holthaus described the emotional moment at San Francisco International Airport when he realized that his current lifestyle was no longer sustainable — or conscionable.
What changed, Holthaus said, was the report’s acknowledgment that high-tech geoengineering solutions weren’t going to have an impact on climate change. Two things he had seen as potential answers to the climate problem — either launching a massive solar shade into orbit to block 5 percent of the sun’s rays, or installing fake plastic trees to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere — were both dismissed out of hand. All 195 countries that approved the report agree with scientists that the time and scope needed for such measures wasn’t feasible. On the phone with his wife, Holthaus despaired: “That was our chance, and it’s gone.”
What the IPCC report did find could be effective, said Holthaus, are drastic and immediate cuts to CO2 emissions. On first glance, Holthaus was already doing a lot. He recycles and doesn’t own a car. He’s also a vegetarian. But despite doing “pretty much [what] everyone’s always told me to do,” when he plugged his lifestyle into a carbon footprint calculator, he found that his CO2 emissions were still double that of the average American. Doing almost everything else “right” wasn’t enough to make up for the approximately 75,000 miles he flies annually.
“As an average person that follows this issue and write about it a lot for his job,” explained Holthaus, ”if I don’t do something that the IPCC recommends, why would anyone else?” Using University of California, Berkeley’s, carbon calculator, he estimates that he’ll be responsible for 33.5 fewer tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Holthaus acknowledges the massive cultural change it would take to ground carbon-emitting flights — even Al Gore, he points out, owns a private jet. But Skype, he contends, can often do the same work as face-to-face business meetings, if you can sacrifice the post-meeting schmooze over cocktails. His own lifestyle permits a move toward Internet meet-ups, and while he probably won’t be going overseas again, he says Amtrak can get him most places he wants or needs to go.
Despite what comes off as a huge gesture, he maintains that his decision to stop flying isn’t that drastic. For lifestyle changes like vegetarianism to have a sizable impact, he said, requires constant reaffirmation: You have to deny yourself that steak every day. But plenty of people don’t fly all that often to begin with. If more would cut down on just one long-distance flight per year, he maintains, that would also have a major impact.
This article has been re-posted from www.salon.com and was written by Lindsay Abrams.