Slippery slope

Ancient woodland near Stansted Airport

The new Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has wasted little time in making his contribution to the incoherent Government approach to climate change and environmental protection. Today Mr Hoon and Hazel Blears, Communities Secretary, have approved BAA’s plans to increase the cap in passenger numbers at Stansted Airport.

This is an odd move given that the Government’s advisors on climate change raised concerns earlier this week about the climate change impacts of aviation. It sounds like the climate change issue doesn’t apply to the Department for Transport. Indeed there is one standout sentence in the decision letter, paragraph 23 where it actually states:

“The Secretaries of State note that neither the Planning Bill nor Climate Change Bill have been enacted, and afford them little weight, as they might be subject to change. “

The Climate Change Bill may well be subject to change but it won’t be in a way which makes it OK to continue to ignore the need for emissions reductions – it will be, if anything, more stringent in its targets. The idea of affording the Government’s climate change policy which is being pursued through the climate change bill “little weight” is bizarre.

It’s worth remembering that one of the reasons Uttlesford District Council initially turned down the planning application was due to the impacts on climate change – the local council understood the conflicts with climate change policy, but the Transport Secretary doesn’t. Perhaps Mr Hoon hasn’t quite grasped the urgency of addressing climate change or perhaps his head has been turned by a flawed economic argument, but whatever the reason this is a bad move environmentally.

Aside from the climate change impacts, we’re concerned that this gives BAA encouragement to press ahead with its other planning application for a new second runway at the airport – a second runway which would destroy five irreplaceable ancient woods. The plans to expand permitted passenger numbers simply increases the pressure on decision makers to roll over and let BAA go ahead with its destructive plans for a second runway. This will all come to a head at a public inquiry next year and anyone who cares about climate change and environmental protection will have to be ready to make their voices heard then.

 You can read all the documents relating to the Inspector’s conclusions and the decision letter here
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/airports/decisionletters/stansted/

About Ed Pomfret

Head of campaigns at the Woodland Trust. I run our campaigning work on issues such as climate change, aviation, planning reform and woods under threat.
This entry was posted in Aviation, Climate Change, Government Affairs, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Slippery slope

  1. Pingback: Appeal against Stansted expansion launched «

  2. Angela Kurton says:

    Ashley, Audrey, or whatever your name is, of BAA “London” Stansted… I am still waiting for an answer to my question.

    “Bothered by aircraft noise? I’m listening” (Private joke – Ashley will get that.)

    Your silence seems to indicate that I was correct about being attacked by BAA staff members on BAA company time.

    I would encourage EVERYONE to contact Ashley Riley at Stansted Airport. It’s sounds like a great scheme, doesn’t it, where any random individual can stroll up to the Head of Communications, receive an impartial induction on the pros and cons of the expansion, sit for hours gazing at, and discussing, the relative merits of a load of websites. And it is FANTASTIC that you can keep going back to the Airport in business hours for unlimited access to BAA systems and blog to your heart’s content (no security).

    Come on! What are we all waiting for! BAA’s Head of Communications is looking forward to meeting you, and has nothing better to do. Liven up his day!!

  3. Brian Ross says:

    The explanation proferred by ‘Audrey Daisy’ following the discovery that the postings by herself/himself on this blog – and similar postings in the names of David Josiah and Paul Longacre – have been traced back to BAA is entirely credible. Equally, we all know that Elvis is alive and well and living in an attic in Elsenham. Moreover, he has asked me to register his objection to further airport expansion. He is apparently concerned about the effects on his health.

    Brian Ross
    PS – Is it just me or is there a similar ‘ring’ to the names Audrey Daisy and Ashley Riley?

  4. Martin Peachey says:

    It seems there is a company which currently affords members of the public the use of its registered IP address to post their personal messages on the Woodland Trust blog site concerning Stansted Airport. At the same time, this company is pursuing the local council for costs following the recent result of the Public Inquiry allowing expansion of Stansted Airport. This company had alleged that local councillors were biased in the 2006 refusal to grant planning permission for expansion on the grounds that they had previously been members of SSE. It is apparently the same company which was not heard to complain when the same local council, with councillors who were then SSE members, gave planning permission for the previous expansion of Stansted Airport in 2003.

  5. Alan Dean says:

    Ashley Riley is right when he says: “aviation is not ‘good’ for the environment”, but I am afraid that is where reality ends.

    When he goes on to claim “other countries are waiting in the wings to develop their airports if we don’t. I want the 13,000 new jobs that G2 will bring to come to our region not somewhere in mainland europe or further afield”, he begins to stretch credibility on behalf of BAA.

    Does he imagine that people will drive or catch the train to Frankfurt in order to fly on to some other destination? How does limiting aviation capacity between Stansted and Edinburgh provide jobs in Milan?

    Far better that this region generates new jobs in less destructive industries such as home insulation installation and alternative sources of energy that in an industry that is on course to more than wipe out reductions in CO2 emissions in all other sectors of the economy.

    Taking “our responsibility seriously of (sic) what we can do to mitigate the problems of aviation” is only possible by restricting growth and using aviation more for priority needs. I am not aware that BAA has invented a mitigation technology to capture carbon emissions from planes in flight!

    Meanwhile, BAA intends to penalise financially local taxpayers who took a moral stand on climate change against an amoral company and government.

  6. Ashley Riley says:

    Hi there Ed and others,

    Thanks for your postings. I don’t usually personally write on blogs as I am always keen as Head of Public Affairs at Stansted to listen and read others point of views. I did want to come on line for some points of clarification though.

    Primarliy I apologise for any confusion with the use of BAAs IP address. I can confirm that we are reguarly approached by members of the public who want to know more about our plans. Myself or members of my team are always happy to meet those individuals and provide any information that is requested.

    We always make the effort to give people both sides of the issues we work on and encourage them to come to their own conclusion. I have met with Audrey and David who are just two of the many that wanted to know more about G2 and other projects we have here (interestingly, David was quite impressed with all the information on the SSE site)

    There blog entries are their own but once again I apologise for any confusion caused by their use of the internet while they were visiting us. I do think Audrey addressed the issue well in her response above and hope that those blooging on this site accept that. As Ed suggests, we should move onto the issues that we really care about.

    I came to work at Stansted because I am progressive are care passionately for the future of our region and our country.

    I was on numerous radio bulletins last week and made clear that of course, aviation is not ‘good’ for the environment.

    We have a choice therefore to put our head in the sand and stop all expansion; which will mean only the affluent can fly (something which from a social justice point of view I find is simply wrong) and business and the local economy will suffer.

    Or we can manage change, recognise that more and more people want to fly, and take our responsibility seriously of what we can do to mitigate the problems of aviation.

    Interestingly, other countries are waiting in the wings to develop their airports if we don’t. I of course recognise that some local people are happy with this but we have to recognise that stopping any further expansion at Stansted will see jobs and investment leaving the area. The Stansted we know today will not be the Stansted of tommorrow if expansion is stopped now. I want the 13,000 new jobs that G2 will bring to come to our region not somewhere in mainland europe or further afield.

    These are of course my and BAAs views and I accept that some don’t see the issue that way.

    With regards to G1 – BAA, those who oppose us and many other local people got their opportunity to put their views to an independent planning inspector who listened to all the views, including those on the environment, and his words decided that ‘..the factors which weigh in favour of the proposal outweight the harm identified..’

    I do hope this is helpful to WT bloggers and clears up confusion regarding BAAs role in the blog or our views on expansion.

    Regards

    Ashley Riley
    Head of Public Affairs
    BAA London Stansted

  7. Stuart says:

    I have to ask those who believe BAA information: “Why?”.

    There is ample information on the web, and even some of it from completely independent sources. Please, at least do some homework before aligning your views with a solely commercial and ‘Government friendly’ lobbying company.

    If there is any doubt that climate change is caused by *us* then perhaps a moritorium on any ‘dirty’ industrial expansion for ten or twenty years would be in order, just to be on the safe side. After all, spaceship Earth is the only place I know of where we can survive at the moment. We do owe it some duty of care, or do you have someplace else to go?

  8. Angela Kurton says:

    Audrey Daisy, David Josiah, Paul Longacre – well, well, well, so the truth is out.

    I was more or less sure that I was dealing with individuals who have an interest in creating a stir on the internet. Is your employer paying you to place your postings? Is this somehow part of your job function? Do tell.

    The climate denial industry and the tobacco denial industry function in the same way… employing people to propagate factual inaccuraces (i.e. LIES).

    Debate is acceptable. LIES are not acceptable.

    It was clear that I was dealing with people who did not have the capacity for an open debate in the spirit of discovering answers – which is why I chose to ‘bow out’.

    I was subjected to appalling personal insults, especially from the David Josiah character… And my crime? To give two responses pointing out factual inaccuracies in the postings by Josiah and Longacre.

    *ENDS*

  9. Audrey Daisy says:

    Hi there Ed,

    Thanks for your message and I’m really sorry that you feel it appropiate to continue make it a ‘them and us’ debate by delving into where people are blogging from. It certainly doesn’t do anything to open debate of people now know they will be ‘looked up’ on. I hope that you are looking up IP addressess of opposing runway comments to see if they come from Stop Stansted Expanison and alike.

    For the record – I can’t speak for other bloggers – I am local to the airport, I certainly can’t trust the local media (sorry or WT) for objective information so approached the airport for information. They were very helpful, invited me in to look at documents and put no pressure on me be supportive or non supportive.

    I did ask them if there was anywhere on the internet that I could express my views, To their credit they showed me a number of for and against sites. I asked to if I could spend a short time on those sites while I was at the office and thats where I blogged from. I actually think its quite open of stansted to do this as I could have easily posted opposing comments. If I knew you guys would stoop so low as to try and ‘out’ people who dont agree with you I wouldn’t have took part.

    I am at friends today in the Midlands so this IP address should not show BAA (I am not even sure what an IP address is). Mind you – I found out last week that her brother works for an airport so I suppose you may make the link and still accuse me of not being ‘open’.

    I really think we should get to the point on this and thats the issues. Does the WT have a campaign on CO2 emissions from cattle and the damage they cause to woodland? Perhaps we should be more worried about what comes out of the back of cows and not planes? perhaps we should be more worried about either of these than who, where and why someone is posting messages from?

    Audrey

  10. Ed Pomfret says:

    Hi Audrey – thanks for taking an interest in our blog. I don’t normally respond to comments as I feel that this is an area where people should have the chance to openly debate what we’re saying on here.
    I note that the IP address you’re using along with your friends (or colleagues?) “Dave Josiah and “Paul Longacre” is registered to BAA. Presumably you guys are members of BAA staff rather than as you’ve claimed in the past members of the public living near the airport. If you are it might be worth being a bit more open and admit as such and then we could have a nice debate about the pros and cons of the airport. Rather than suggesting you are concerned members of the public, perhaps you could be open about why you want the airport expanded and then we could all be aware what you’re up to. You may well honestly feel that expansion should be allowed and I believe you should be free to express your views on our blog and wherever else you want to, but perhaps you should let us know if you are working for the airport as well as believing it should be expanded?

  11. Audrey Daisy says:

    The stable door is wide open, the horse has bolted and is miles away. Not even a legal challenge will bring it back …..

    I am all for debate but come on WT, you are missing out some pretty fundamental points.

    The decision from the planning inspector comes after a public inquiry where (as WT well knows) all the arguements, for and against were put forward. At the moment its like we have a had a court trial, the judge has found in favour of the defendent, but the other side want to re-open the case and make all the same areguments again when clearly those arguements were floored and incoherent.

    I have had a look at the report – it clearly says ‘…the factors which weigh in favour of the proposal outweigh the harm identified…’

    As a local taxpayer I am more concerned about how much UDC spent on this and is this money lost?

    If WT really wants to address a problem how about looking at the issue that cattle farming globally produces more CO2 emissions that global aviation. Lets have a piece on that.

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