From Sipson with love

Sipson thanks

The spirit of the Climate Camp lives on. I was at two public meetings this week, in the villages which will be destroyed if BAA's plans go ahead, to make way for tons and tons of tarmac: one in Sipson, the village that would be completely wiped out; and the other in Harlington, the adjoining village.

When local MP John McDonnell praised the Climate Camp as the most important event to have taken place for decades in the fight against Heathrow expansion, both meetings, packed with local residents, burst into spontaneous applause.

The mood of the meetings was so different to those held here just a year ago. The general mood then was downbeat: a feeling that the airport and the authorities always get their way and that the fight would ultimately be in vain. People here had given up, conceded that the runway was inevitable, and were now just protesting to make a point, not to win.

But now feelings have changed. Where people once felt resigned, now there was a belief that we might, just might, win. That against the might of BAA, of industry, of Government, we stood a chance. Make no mistake; the Climate Camp was the reason for their change of mood. John McDonnell, who had spent time at the Camp, said it had turned Heathrow into an international iconic struggle against climate change. Heathrow residents now know they are not alone.

You could sense that the people of the villages felt, probably for the first time, that they were part of a worldwide movement that even the power of the aviation industry cannot stop. It's going to be one hell of a fight...

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.

Does anyone still work at BAA?


Wish me luck

News reaches us that yet another BAA senior staff manager has walked the plank.

This time it's Greg Ward, operations manager for Heathrow, who left the broke and ailing company "to pursue new challenges".

I don't really blame him - I wouldn't want to work for BAA right now either...

My day trip to Parliament

Dunwoody and a runway

In my years of campaigning I've come up against some tough opponents. Riot police in fields of beans behind the Camp for Climate Action; over-zealous security guards determined to keep carbon criminals operating; even angry businessmen prevented from getting to work. But nothing had prepared me for the wrath of Gwyneth Dunwoody.

Yesterday, five of us entered the Transport Select Committee inquiry into "the Future of BAA". After thirty minutes of whinging from Easyjet, BA and American Airlines that BAA weren't helping them profit from the 'cheap' flights bonanza, BAA's head honchos took the stand.

Predict and it shall be provided, part one

Criswell predicts!

You can call the Heathrow consultation many things, but there's one phrase the Government doesn't want you to use: 'predict and provide'. But what does predict and provide mean - and is it a fair description of the industry's unprecendented expansion plans? In the first of two articles, I'll focus on how a phrase that was once transport policy gospel fell into ill repute.

For years, transport policy was based around a growth model, whereby the Department for Transport would "provide road capacity where and when it will be required". This primarily applied to traffic growth - road building - and it was widely (and erroneously) held by civil servants that the "main drivers of traffic growth [were] outside policy control"; they felt that income was the primary driver of growth - and who in the 80s was going to suggesting reducing that?

Can you say 'mixed messages'?

Confused fat cat

It must be hard being a fat cat now that climate change is taken seriously. Gone are the days of ignoring 'the loony left' and their 'peer-reviewed science'; in the aftermath of Kyoto and Stern, everyone - Gordon Brown included - is keen to be seen to be green.

This puts organisations like the CBI (motto: "the voice of business") in a quandary. On the one hand, they're firmly wedded to Adam Smith and his ignorance of externalities (for which read: growth at all costs), on the other they're facing considerable consumer pressure to start doing something about rising CO2 emissions.

Will the last fat cat to leave London...

Veruca Salt

...turn out the lights. In a shocking outburst, the CBI has declared that failing to expand Heathrow will cause total economic meltdown. Like a petulant child demanding more candy, the fat cats of London Town have declared that if they don't get a new runway to play with right now!, they'll up sticks to somewhere less concerned about the climate.

Richard Lambert, the Director General of Fat Cats Inc, has sided with the Government, arguing that "The question is will a bank like Deutsche Bank continue to expand in London or will it not? Will UBS? They are not going to move away but they will not put their prize assets here. They will go somewhere else. There are plenty of people who want to eat our lunch."

Can BAA afford to expand?

Dustbowl Heathrow

Could it be that despite the Government's determination to expand Heathrow - regardless of the cost to communities and the climate - that beleagured BAA can't actually afford to build an new tea-shop, let alone a third runway?

International finance analysts Bloomberg noted in response to the 'consultation' that BAA's credit rating was recently down-graded to 'junk' status - i.e. you wouldn't want to lend them a fifty pence for a cup of coffee. Put simply, BAA is broke.

You say consultation. We say sham!

Tin of Sham

At a packed meeting yesterday afternoon the combined forces of the anti-Heathrow expansion movement heard something they'd always suspected. The consultation, due out today, will be a sham. The Government has made its mind up; like it or not, Heathow expansion is going ahead.

We had gathered to meet with Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, in a final face-to-face before the launch of the latest consultation on the third runway. Plane Stupid, of course, was not invited, but I snuck in to hear just what Fitzpatrick (coincidentally also Environment Minister for the Department for Transport) had to say.

Noisy Heathrow in Concorde cover-up

What a surprise. The findings of long-awaited release of the ANASE report, exploring the noise from Heathrow airport, has been rejected by the Government as, apparently, it "does not give us the robust figures on which it would be safe to change policy".

The Government has said that expansion at Heathrow can only take place if it can be done without increaseing the number of people affected by aircraft noise. As more planes from more runways is pretty dammed likely to cause more noise, the DfT has started playing silly buggers with the measuring.