German airports get expansion fever

German anti-aviation campaigners have been contending with huge regional airport expansion plans. Airport managers hope to stimulate demand by expanding rather than catering to a demand that already exists, excitedly talking up weekend shopping trips to London amongst other equally essential flights.

Construction is already under way at Kassel Calden regional airport, which is going to expand into a commercial airport with the help of massive subsidies of €150 million. Residents, neighbouring municipalities and BUND launched a legal challenge, but their case was dismissed in April last year and a massive forest was cleared last month.

True to style, it wasn’t left at that and campaigners now have to contend with the attempted destruction of the Querumer Forest to lengthen the runway at Braunschweig airport. A spokesperson for the group, Peter Illert said "This airport doesn't serve public interests, it is used by managers of the nearby Volkswagen AG headquarters in Wolfsburg."

Supporting the attempted expansion on such a beautiful natural site is a strange move by Volkswagen, who have been working hard on their greenwash by a sustained campaign of tree planting. Angry at the injustice, climate activists and local groups have set up a vigil camp in the endangered area, similar to one that sprung up near Frankfurt this time last year.

Illert went on to say, "Nowadays, the north of Hessia is a poor country, and gets still poorer - of money and of quality of life - when a new airport is erected for a small number of businessmen and ambitious local politicians for charter traffic and medium distance flights."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves!

European campaigners join forces against airport expansion

Over the past few years the airlines and airports across Europe have been putting aside corporate interests to work together on expansion. They've been pretending great rivalry between Frankfurt, Schipol, Charles de Gaulle and Heathrow, persuading each country that it's expansion or die for their beloved hub.

We decided to do the same, which is why Plane Stupid joined campaigners from almost a dozen countries at a European aviation campaigners' get-together. People came from all over: local airport groups, environmental NGOs, direct action networks, people campaigning on climate change, noise and those just trying to save their communty from destruction.

Two days worth of chatter and we were all agreed that not only was victory possible, it was looking ever more likely. It was clear that a bit of mutual aid was just what was needed to seal the deal. Expect to see joint and co-ordinated actions and demonstrations over the coming year - both fluffy and rather spikier.

Eurovision Flashmob: airport exansion is out of tune with the public

Is it ever possible to be really tacky and make a really serious political point at the same time? Probably not, but aviation campaigners from around Europe had a go on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest. On 16th May campaigners from six airports across Europe staged Flash Mobs in their terminal buildings. And sang their country’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest!

Hundreds of people flashed their red t-shirts, emblazoned with the words ‘Stop Airport Expansion’ at Heathrow, Frankfurt, Schiphol (Amsterdam), Brussels, Dublin and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The result was a seriously kitch display of bad taste and bad singing. Check out the Flickr photostream if you don't believe me!

Over the past few years there have been growing links between aviation campaigners in the different countries of Europe. The industry is determined to play each airport off against each other, so we're building up a Europe-wide movement to resist them. These wonderfully tacky flash mobs, where campaigners gave ‘nul points’ to the aviation industry, were a very visible sign that this is beginning to happen.

Emission trading scheme - a license to print money


Sorry to go all Daily Mail on y'all, but you really couldn't make it up. The emissions trading scheme, the Government's preferred method of reducing aviation's contribution to climate change, is likely to generate up to £4 billion in windfall profits for the industry.

A report commissioned for the DfT and Defra into the effects of the ETS, reveals how the scheme will reward airlines with too many free credits, which will then be sold on by industry. The airlines are expected to use the spectre of the trading scheme to raise their own prices, charging customers for the emissions generated by their flight - despite recieving 96-97% of their current emissions in free credits.

Airline websites mislead public

O'Leary cuddling a plane

Hot on the heels of the Advertising Standards Agency's ruling on Ryanair, the European Commission has found that at least 200 airlines' websites are "misleading" the public.

According to the Commission, common issues include prices on the home page that did not include taxes and charges, 'free' flights that were not free and compulsory purchase of insurance attached to an offer.

MEPs water down aviation emissions scheme

As the dust settles following the ICAO / EU battle over aviation emissions, news reaches us that MEPs have significantly retreated from ordering significant cuts in CO2 from aircraft.

After talking big about how the Emissions Trading Scheme would dramatically reduce emissions, the EU has decided to reduce the sector's output to 66% above 1990 levels - a far cry from the Kyoto targets originally proposed. They are also planning to give away 50% of the credits, potentially providing a huge bonus to industry coffers.

Ruth Kelly acts decisively...

STOP PRESS: Ruth Kelly has today announced that the UK "acted decisively today to safeguard the proposed European aviation emissions trading scheme".

Sounds great - but what did they actually do? "At the ICAO Assembly, delegates from other countries expressed their wish to move forward on the basis of an international consensus, but insisted on an approach that would have effectively prevented the EU from introducing an emissions trading scheme for non-EU flights."

Ex-aviation minister slams industry

Ex-aviation minister Gillian Merron, now at the Cabinet Office, spent last week chatting with her European peers in Lisbon.

In an unexpected development she waded into the climate change debate, denouncing an industry that "is responsible for about 1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions each year - that's between 2 and 4% of global energy."

Clearly something must be done! Thanks, Gillian, for recognising that despite only emitting a fraction globally, this industry must still be tackled. It's what Plane Stupid has been saying all along!

[Edit: turns out the industry in question is IT...]