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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What does it take to make people change? Further correspodence in response to letters in the Gloucester Echo

Dear Councillors,

I am copying you in on a letter that I have sent to the Gloucester Echo. It concerns worrying attitudes and perceptions that are being evidenced in the letter pages of the Echo. Despite the overwhelming evidence of global warming and its immediate and devastating consequences on our door step, we are still faced with the incredible position where people still are not able or not willing to reconcile cause and effect. Floods and storms of the nature that we have seen are not a surprise. They have long been predicted as a consequence of global warming. Whilst one would have hoped that the flooding disaster would finally be a wake up call that would bring people out on the street to demand action on global warming, it has actually become an event that people are using to rationalise the continuation of damaging and self centred ways. As well as the comments below praising 4x4s and Staverton airport, we have also seen the ridiculous spectacle of 10 million people flying abroad for better weather.

I trust that in your position as councillors you will fulfil your responsibilities by heeding the warnings that we have received from the flooding and oppose the expansion of Staverton Airport.

Furthermore, I have deemed it necessary to copy this letter directly to yourselves as recent correspondence from myself and Philip Booth to the Gloucester Citizen was not published.



Dear Editor,

The recent letters that you have published extolling the virtues of 4x4s and Staverton Airport’s basing of helicopters during the flooding indicate worrying attitudes towards the floods and global warming in general.

Ms. Currie writes that she hopes that 4x4 are not priced of the road, as we will need them more frequently due to the possibility of other extreme future extreme flooding events. Mr. West writes that those opposing the Staverton Airport extension are NIBY’s, effectively arguing because it was useful in the floods we should not be challenging its future development.

Let me say that I am glad these facilities were useful in alleviating personal problems in the floods. However, the positions of your letter writers need considerably more thought. Firstly, there is little doubt that the floods are a result of global warming. It has long been proven and acknowledged that warming the environment allows more moisture to be carried in the air, which will lead to extreme rain events and storms. In fact, the moisture in the air acts as a further green house gas, accelerating global warming even further and studies of this phenomena have concluded that there is in no safe increased level of CO2. It is beyond doubt that Staverton and 4x4s will cause considerable additional CO2 emissions into an environment that is already under intense pressure and is now effectively saturated with greenhouse gases. It is vital that 4x4s and Staverton Airport are opposed.

Secondly, the flooding disaster that we have experienced in recent weeks is but one of several disasters happening simultaneously around the world. In fact our disaster is benign when compared to the forest fires of the Mediterranean, the droughts of the American Midwest and Australia and the extreme flooding of South East Asia. An immediate consequence of the cumulative effect of these disasters is that food shortages are inevitable this winter, in both this country and many others around the world. All the 4x4s and helicopters in the world will not be able to help in any significant way with this emerging crisis.

All the evidence suggests that the flooding we have experienced is likely to be a minor foretaste of worse climatic disasters to come in future years. It is therefore highly concerning that despite a crisis of the magnitude of our floods, people are not still not yet demanding a more positive response to tackling global warming and in fact using it as an excuse to justify existing damaging lifestyles. We need to ask if we have become a society that is too selfish and self obsessed for our own good and future survival?

Kevin Lister,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Further E-mail to Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tweksbury Councillors regarding Staverton Airport

Click here to read my sad story of kind, but misguided faries or click here for recent letters to MPs, Ministers town councillors and just about anyone else I can think of as well as other interesting reports

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Cheltenam and Gloucester Council's scrutiny committee has given a written response to the question of CO2 emissions from the Staverton Airport extension. Bizarrely, most of this rested on evidence from the airport. This is hardly scrutiny. My response to them follows below, along with a further letter to the Gloucester Citizen:

Dear Councillors,

Following tonight’s written reply to scrutiny committee regarding the additional CO2 emissions from the Staverton Airport expansion, I write to challenge some of the points in the reply and to correct some of the factual inaccuracies within it. Also included at the end of this email is a copy of my letter to the Gloucester Citizen in response to their opinion poll which concludes the 67% of people do not want restrictions on aviation.

Firstly, the reply says that “2.1 million litres of fuel were used by aircraft using the airport in 2005.” This in its own right is a significant amount of fuel and will increase significantly as the airport is expanded. It is therefore misleading to argue about the future impact of the airport by only comparing with the current emissions. The reply also states that the current emissions are small compared to roads. This actually argues for not building the airport. We know the environmental damage that road transport is doing, yet we find it impossible to stop the traffic. The last thing need now is another infrastructure whose emissions will rise with time and which will also be impossible to stop.

Secondly, the reply says that the emissions “equate to less than 1% of the emissions for the whole of Cheltenham .” Given that the services from the airport are likely to increase after the development work, then it can be assumed that the percentage of the emissions total will also increase.

All the scientific evidence points to us needing to reduce our CO2 emissions by 90% to minimise the risk of dangerous climate change. If we were to achieve this target, the emissions from the airport would amount to 9.1% of Cheltenham ’s total. However, it would in actual fact be higher once the emissions from the additional growth that the airport is trying to achieve is factored in.

Thirdly, the reply says “Gloucester Airport has stressed that its proposals are to improve the runway rather than expand the airport.” Whilst this may be the public position, their initial business plan showed their objective was to develop new services and indeed even talked about a new terminal building. Even Mark Ryan, when interviewed by local press made no secret of his plans to develop new services. Furthermore, the new services introduced by Manx Air clearly demonstrate that the airports intention is to increase services.

Fourthly, the reply says The airports strategic plans aim to attract small high-tech business craft, which are more environmentally friendly.” This is absolute nonsense. The small high-tech airplanes are business jets which are the most carbon intensive mode of travel, no matter how efficient they are. Madonna is a well known user of these and recent reports in the Independent after the Live Earth concert calculated that her carbon footprint was greater than 1000 tonnes. This is galling to people like me and many others who are trying in all ways to reduce our individual carbon foots prints. You are failing in your duty to your constituents if you intend to try to attract business or people to this area who want to operate in environmentally damaging and unsustainable ways.

Fifthly, the reply says that “The airport expects the level of pollution caused to fall over the next few years.” The airport has produced no evidence to support this claim.

Sixthly, the reply says Gloucestershire Airport is committed to playing its part in meeting internationally agreed targets for greenhouse gas emissions.” This is nonsense. There are no internationally agreed targets for greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. In fact, emissions emitted on international flights (which would include most of the proposed business jets) are not even recorded or allocated to any country and the debate on including aviation into any form of carbon trading has stalled.

Finally, the reply states Provision of fuel data will help build a more accurate picture of emissions from this sector and enable monitoring over time.” Clearly we do not have to expand the airport to improve fuel data and it would be interesting to understand what monitoring is actually planned. Would we for example monitor the melting of the ice caps, or the rising of the oceans, or the number of people starving?

Copy of letter to the Gloucester Citizen in response to today's report, click here to report

Dear Editor

It is extremely worrying that only 67% of your readers believe that no action should be taken to limit air travel. It goes to show the effectiveness of the campaigns run by the aviation companies, against the efforts and evidence that the scientific community have amassed on this issue.

Just this week, it has been reported that food prices around the world are rising rapidly. This will mean starvation for many of the world’s poorer people. The reason for this is the bizarre combination around the world of droughts and floods, all of which stem from global warming. We are rapidly running out of time to act.

As for the point that one of your readers has made in the feedback on this article about the Stern report claiming that aviation only accounts for 2% of emissions, this needs some careful consideration. Firstly the Stern report calculates the 2% based on all emissions, including burning down the rain forests. It is simply because this is such a large contribution to the overall total, that aviation is small. We should be campaigning against forest clearances as well, rather than ignoring aviation because it is small in comparison. Also the aviation figures in Stern are based on data from 2000 and do not reflect the growth that the industry has experienced since then or the anticipated future increase of their emissions. Finally the figures in Stern relate only to the CO2 emissions, whereas aviation also causes the release of NOx gases into the upper atmosphere which have global warming effects hundreds of times higher that CO2 alone. The radiative forcing effects of aviation indicate that the actual impact is 4 to 6 times higher that just for CO2 alone. These factors have made it virtually impossible for aviation to be incorporated into European Carbon Trading Mechanism, so great is its impact.

The facts speak for themselves. Staverton Airport is currently under review regarding expansion and there is no case for it. We need to hope that we have councillors who are brave enough to show leadership and do the right thing based on the evidence by rejecting the proposals, rather that to default to follower-ship and allow policies to be dictated by popularist opinion polls.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

E-mail to Ultimate High complaining about Noise Nusance

Click here to see Ultimate High Web site

Dear Sirs,

I am a resident of Nailsworth who used to enjoy sitting in my garden and listening to the birds or generally relaxing with friends over a quiet drink.

Unfortunately, this simple pleasure is now firmly consigned to the past. I am now subjected to the intolerable drone of your aircraft engaged in mock dogfights that go on for extended periods of time over my house. The perpetual noise of your planes now forces me indoors for peace and quiet. This is not what I expect when living in an area such as this. I receive no benefit from your business and thus feel severely aggrieved at being inconvenienced by it.

I notice from the client testimonials on your web site that you service the egos of large city institutions. Maybe I am being a bit of a killjoy here, but I see no reason why the peace and quiet of the Cotswold countryside should be destroyed by highly paid city executives from companies such as Shoosmiths Solicitors or Holmans Lloyds Insurance Brokers who clearly have little empathy for the environement that they are destroying. I will be writing to each of your clients to complain about the distrubance that they are causing to our environement.

Further to this, in a time of increaing concern over global warming and when we are all being urged to cut back on our CO2 emissions, it seems that what you are offering is a frivalous activity that should be consigned to the past and which can only result in your clients emitting a disproportionate contribution of emissions.

Yours truly
Kevin Lister

see also

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Latest email to Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tweksbury Councillors to protest against Staverton Airport Expansion

Click here to read my sad story of kind, but misguided faries or click here for recent letters to MPs, Ministers town councillors and just about anyone else I can think of as well as other interesting reports

Contact me at

Dear Councillors,

Following the article in todays Echo extolling the virtues of the new services being introduced from Gloucester Airport to the Isle of Man and Jersey I have written to the Echo to ensure that the the environmental impact of this development receives coverage to provide a more balanced view. My letter follows below in blue, with further comment at the end:

"The announcement in the Gloucester Echo today of new services to the Isle and Man highlights the dangers of allowing Staverton Airport to expand its infrastructure. Despite the claims that the airport wants to carry out the modifications to improve safety, one would have to be extremely stupid not to recognise that the true intent is to increase profits by the introduction of new higher value services, such as new passenger schedules and business jets.

Past experience has shown that it is a lot easier to stop a stupid thing from starting, than to stop a stupid thing from continuing. For example, we now find it impossible to stop motorways, despite the knowledge that we have amassed on the environmental damage that they are doing. Had we not allowed their construction in the first place, or at least constrained their initial construction, we may not be facing the environmental catastrophe of today.

Whilst, the new service from Staverton may “only” be a small plane, it is still a small plane too many. The scientific evidence is clear that we need to be reducing CO2 emissions, not trying to justify further increases by saying “it is only small” or “it is a fuel efficient plane” This new service represents the start of aspirations for growth, which if left unchallenged will pick up a momentum of its own and result in large and unnecessary CO2 emissions.

It is interesting that Mark Ryan says “Manx's corporate ethic works very well with our own core values.” In the light of campaigning for further expansions of aircraft services against the overwhelming evidence on climate change, I would be interested in understanding exactly what Mark Ryan sees as his company's core values.

The report quotes John Oates, former non-executive director for the airport as saying "Its going to be a positive thing, there are people who travel further afield for flights to the Isle of Man." It would be useful if he took a look at the M25. Demand always expands to fill supply. This service will simply develop new demand which will be used to justify further expansion. It is an ill thought out argument to claim this it will in some way reduce CO2 emissions."

To help you come to a conclusion in your debates and discussions on the issue of the airport expansion, I have enclosed links to an article in todays Telegraph. As you will see, the increasing shortage of world oil will lead to significant price rises and an economic down turn. We thus face the scenario of an airport emptied of business once it has added many tonnes of CO2 into the environment. Click here to see the link.

If you have ever managed an organisation or a project that is in difficulty, you will know that you can normally over come one problem and recover. However, when you have two concurrent problems, the chance of survival becomes significantly less. We are clearly facing two enormous and unprecedented concurrent problems, peak oil combined with climate change. It is clearly madness to pursue developing an airport against this background.

Just in case you are getting fed up of me, or you feel that you will be acting in isolation by abandoning your plans, you may also want to read todays editorial in the Independent.

Kevin Lister

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Further email correspondance with Steve Jordan (Lib Dem Councillor) on the expansion of Staverton Airport

Dear Steve,

Thankyou for your reply to my emails and clarification of your position. Perhaps we have misunderstood the minutes of the scrutiny committee meetings which show you supporting the airports development. We are also concerned that there appears to be no mechanism within the scrutiny committees evaluation to consider the environmental impacts of this development.

We note that Mott MacDonald are to be engaged to carry out an assessment. However, analysis of environmental impacts, and especially contributions to climate change, are not in Mott's areas of expertise and there has been no publication of their remit. It therefore appears that this will be a rubber stamping exercise.

On the particular point that you raise about safety, this has clearly been a smoke screen to enable the airport to expand whilst avoiding the necessary scrutiny. Even the airport management have said in their 5 year business plan that it was their intent to develop additional services. In the business plan they initially published they were absolutely explicit about their ambitions to develop additional services. If safety is a genuine concern to airport management, then it would suggest that they are trying to encourage services that are inappropriate to their infrastructure.

I would challenge your interpretation of the Echo's reports as being lurid, especially because these reflect services numbers quoted from Mark Ryan. Mark Ryan has said that the existing plane movements would be replaced by the those associated with the new services. As this will result in light general aviation planes being replaced with longer range scheduled passenger planes and business jets, then the CO2 emissions from the airport will increase dramatically. So whilst the absolute number of services may not increase, the total CO2 emissions will. Furthermore, a part of the development proposals is to introduce instrument landing. This will enable services to land and take off in the dark, thus allowing a further increase in available capacity at the airport.

I appreciate you sharing the wider argument regarding the use of the airport for housing, but there has not been any suggestion that the airport is not viable in its current mode of operation. However, the debate on housing is a complex issue which needs to be evaluated on its own merits. We should not be trying to resolve this by expanding an airport.

I enclose a link to todays report in the Telegraph on seagull die offs of the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. Sea bird die offs are becoming a frequent occurrence and "dead zones" have been observed in both the North Sea and Western Pacific. You may wish to forward this link to any councillors who you believe still support the airport expansion and consider climate change to be an irrelevant issue.

Kevin Lister

Steve Jordan wrote:

Thanks Kevin,

I hope I can help clarify a few issues for you.

Whether we like it or not, the council position on the latest airport business plan will be decided by the cabinet and the cabinet is entirely made up of Conservatives. Their decision is currently expected in November. As you may know, the airport is jointly owned by Cheltenham and Gloucester councils and a process for the 2 councils to look at the business plan is just getting underway. There will be a chance for the relevant scrutiny committee to express an opinion but so far there is only a list of questions to put to the airport board.

As for Lib Dem policy on airports, it is something I support, which I guess is no surprise as I don't own a car let alone a private jet. For me the main issue at the airport is about safety, as it only operates with a dispensation to allow a shorter runway than should normally be the case. This needs to be sorted out for the airport to continue the current level of operation. The Echo's lurid headlines about expansion plans give a distorted picture, but the article also mentioned that the current usage is 90000 movements per year and in future this is expected to be 90000 movements per year. Not much of an expansion there. The idea that Gloucestershire airport will become some sort of regional hub is frankly ridiculous and not something the Lib Dems would support.

The biggest issue with the current activity at the airport is that it prevents houses being built in the green belt. The first objective for those who want to do this is to make sure the airport closes so that the land can be released (see Gloucester City input to Regional Spatial Strategy). So while there is interest in the future of the airport in some ways it is a red herring. The wider debate is between those who 'oppose the airport' as a means of building in the greenbelt and those who 'support the airport' to prevent it. Our view over the years is that we don't support building in the green belt.

Regards, Steve.