During the summer, TAG Aviation who own and operate Farnborough Airport submitted a planning application to double their existing flights. They wished to see the cap on movements raised from 28,000 to 50,000 movements.
It is only recently that TAG through a planning appeal have had their weekend and bank holiday movements upped from 2,500 movement to 5,000 movements. They now wish to see that limit upped yet again to 8,900 movements.
The local planning authority Rushmoor Borough Council has recently announced they were 'minded' to approve the application, albeit with weak conditions attached. The final decision will be taken by the planning committee which meets 7pm Wednesday 11 November 2009 at the Council offices in Farnborough.
The report to the committee is shoddy and misleading. For example it is claimed that approval will incur no financial cost to the Council. This is not true. If the planning committee rubber-stamp what is put before them and ignore the overwhelming evidence against expansion, ignore the impact on climate change, ignore the massive local opposition to expansion, then they will in all likelihood face a legal challenge. If the committee approves the application knowing the Council could incur hefty legal costs, the councillors could be surcharged. Questions to Keith Holland, Head of Planning, remain unanswered.
It is correct as the report states that conditions have changed since approval was first granted for a business airport at Farnborough. The case against is stronger than it was a decade ago. There is now much more information on global warming and climate change. The time frame within which we can act to prevent a climate catastrophe is much less than previously thought and much bigger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are required. If we are to prevent thermal runaway and the planet flipping to a much hotter climate we have to act now. We have to act now to impose deep cuts in carbon emissions. Business as usual is no longer an option. Farnborough Airport cannot be permitted to expand.
The case against expansion is overwhelming. Were the evidence placed before a jury and the jury to come to a contrary view, the conclusion drawn would be the jury had been bought.
The arguments against expansion are well documented.
Expansion is a breach of the Local Plan which does not expire until 2011.
Expansion is a breach of a planning condition to protect the amenity of the locality.
Expansion would be a breach of the Human Rights Act. Failure to consider the impact on Human Rights is itself a breach of the Act. Mention in the report that human rights have been considered is not good enough. It has to be shown how human rights have been considered.
Expansion will lead to an increase in risk to the local population. The 1 in 10,000 risk contour which should be retained within the airfield boundary would extend beyond the airfield boundary.
Expansion will lead to an increase in noise, an increase in air pollution.
Noise is not just a nuisance. Noise has direct health impacts which have quantifiable costs. These health impacts and costs have not been taken into account, let alone quantified.
Expansion would drive a coach and horses through the Climate Change Act which makes mandatory a cut in CO2 emissions of 80% by 2050. All major development schemes have to demonstrate how they will achieve this mandatory target of 80% cut in CO2 emissions. Expansion of Farnborough Airport would lead to an increase in carbon emissions not a reduction.
There is no economic case for expansion.
The report before committee cites a report referred to by the aviation industry, but fails to mention a detailed study by World Development Movement and New Economics Foundation that showed that contrary to the myths peddled by the aviation lobby, there is no economic case for aviation and the costs outweigh the benefits and even this detailed study failed to take account of all the economic costs.
The government has recently revised upwards the costs associated with each tonne of CO2. A costing of the Third Runway at Heathrow has shown that when the latest carbon costs are accounted for there is no economic case for a Third Runway at Heathrow. BAA subsequently shelved plans for a Third Runway.
Such an analysis has not taken place for expansion at Farnborough.
There is no economic benefit to the locality. One only has to look at the dire straits of both Farnborough and Aldershot town centres to see that no economic benefits have flowed into the local economy. Though it is fair to say the state of both town centres has also to be put down to poor planning decisions by the local planning authority. A local planning authority now 'minded' to approve a doubling of flights at Farnborough Airport.
The local community is against expansion. The surrounding local authorities are against expansion. Climate change activists are against expansion.
Conditions have been set but these are so pathetic as to be laughable.
TAG has to have to a Travel Plan in place, this to have provisions for cycling and shuttle bus to local stations.
Yeah right! Business executive flies in aboard his $10 million corporate jet, flunky hands him his bicycle and he dons cycle helmet and puts on bike clips and cycles off into the sunset. This scenario is as believable as he or she hopping on the shuttle bus and catching a train!
TAG are to make a contribution to local roads.
Farnborough Airport employs few people. The average passenger occupancy is 2.5 passengers per flight! As the two County Councils have correctly noted, the impact on local roads is negligible.
Airports like Gatwick and Heathrow employ large numbers of people, not just because of their size or the number of flights, but because of shopping malls, baggage handling, check-in, passport control, customs and immigration, aircraft maintenance, none of which exists at Farnborough.
TAG are to make a contribution to employ an official at the council to monitor the airport.
What then, what action would the Council take? A couple of years ago when a request was made by the local community for monitoring data, a Rushmoor councillor replied over his dead body.
The monitoring should be made available live on a website for scrutiny by the local community and other interested third parties.
TAG are to phase out noisier aircraft.
This was happening anyway and was a requirement of the original planning conditions when planning was granted for a business airport at Farnborough. If it is not happening, why is it not happening?
TAG are to phase in their increase in movements.
This would happen anyway. They are not overnight going to jump to 50,000 movements.
And what will happen when TAG hit 50,000 movements? Why they will be back for more, this time asking for 75,000 or 100,000 movements. What next, bigger, heavier aircraft, extended hours, night flying? Freight to supply the mega-shed next door? We warned a decade ago when the original application was made to turn Farnborough Airport into a business airport that it was the thin end of the wedge, a foot in the door and once the limits were reached, TAG would be back for more, and so it has proved to be. This is the second time TAG are back for more.
TAG are to address their increase in CO2 emissions through discredited Carbon Trading.
It is well documented that Carbon Trading does not reduce CO2 emissions. It was established to give yet another market for investment bankers and speculators to trade in. Even worse, it allows the dirtiest polluters, the carbon criminals, to carry on polluting. It leads to pollution and human rights abuse in the Third World. It leads to environmental destruction in the Third World.
Carbon offsetting is like paying someone else to go on a diet whilst you gorge yourself senseless or paying someone else to be celibate or monogamous whilst you screw around.
Carbon offsetting is used not only to justify existing carbon emissions, but, as we are seeing with proposed expansion of Farnborough Airport, to justify an increase in carbon emissions.
Even if carbon offsetting were to offset the impact of carbon emissions (which it does not), it would not offset other harmful emissions, such as NOx.
CO2 emissions from aviation account for 4.9% of Climate Change. CO2 emissions from aviation is the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions. Carbon emissions from aviation is at high altitude where it does the most damage.
A transatlantic flight emits carbon over a 6 hour flight. Carbon offsetting through planting a tree, absorbs that carbon over 60 or more years, and that is assuming the tree survives that long. When the tree dies, or is cut down and burnt, the carbon is released back into the environment.
Who looks after the trees once planted? What is to stop them being cut down for firewood? No long-term finance is in place.
There are good reasons for planting trees, but not mono-culture plantations, there are even better reasons for protecting old growth forests from destruction, but the many and varied reasons do not include carbon offsetting.
Monies paid to the carbon offsetting sector is retained by the sector, very little actually goes on carbon offsetting schemes and most of these are seriously flawed.
In Latin America poor farmers are being kicked off their lands for carbon offset plantations. Old growth forests are being cleared for carbon offset monoculture plantations. Farmers who remain find streams dry up, water tables drop and their land is no longer viable. Those who refuse to leave are killed. [see the documentary The Carbon Connection]
Subsistence farmers are paid to grow trees instead of food. The money dries up. The farmers are left destitute.
In India industrialists are being paid to introduce carbon reduction schemes. Schemes that would have gone ahead anyway!
In South Africa supply of energy saving lamps to shanty towns was counted as carbon offsetting. Shanty towns that had no electricity supply!
The only way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere is by cutting carbon emissions. If we wish to cut carbon emissions, then we do so by cutting carbon emissions, anything less is smoke and mirrors.
Responsible Travel has pulled out of carbon offsetting. They have done so because it does not work. There is no magic bullet, anyone who claims otherwise is engaging in greenwash. As Responsible Travel say, if you wish to cut carbon emissions, then you have to cut the number of flights. Period. End of story.
Storing carbon in biomass, ie trees, is not the same as storing fossil carbon in the ground. Sooner or later that biomass carbon, unless it is frozen as in the tundra and permafrost, will be released back into the atmosphere, and in the case of trees, the most likely release agent is fire. Additionally, as global warming accelerates, there is a growing risk of that stored in the form of methane in frozen biomass being released which will cause thermal runway and the global temperature to flip to a much higher temperature.
The only way to stop fossil carbon entering the atmosphere is to leave it in the ground!
The only way to reduce carbon emissions from Farnborough Airport is to cut the number of movements!
TAG argue if they are not allowed to expand, that expansion would take place elsewhere. The same argument could be used for allowing drug dealers to remain in business, another dealer will step in and take over.
Global warming and climate change is real and the process is accelerating. We each and everyone of us has to do our bit and reduce our individual carbon emissions. We have to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere to below 350 ppm. We have to make a start by cutting our carbon emissions by 10% by 2010. We have to achieve 80% cut by 2050.
If you are in the position to stop airport expansion, then you have to act. Anything less would amount to criminal negligence.
The conditions imposed on TAG Aviation take no account of diplomatic flights, military flights, helicopters, light aircraft, Farnborough Airshow. All of which contribute to noise, risk, air pollution, CO2 emissions. All of which contribute to the TAG bottom line. These movements must be counted.
Farnborough Airport has to be made a designated airport under the relevant aviation legislation. There has to be a properly constituted airport consultation committee with representation one third operator and users, one third local councils, one third local community. Currently the local community is under represented and the meetings are poorly publicised.
If we are to fly, when video conferencing and train is not an option, then we have to fly as efficiently as possible. Business Aviation from Farnborough Airport with an average occupancy of 2.5 passengers per plane is a transport mode that borders on the obscene!
The planning committee meets 7pm Wednesday 11 November 2009 at the Council offices in Farnborough. The councillors on that committee will be expected to do the decent thing and reject the planning application.
If the councillors fail to act then the public will be forced to act either through legal challenges or airport occupation.
This planning application must be REJECTED.
For those who cannot make the meeting, it will be webcast.