Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Email to the commander of the Met Police (Jon Kay), thanking him for bringing his riot police to the Climate Camp. They made us feel so important.

Dear Commander Jonathan,

After listening to your interview on Radio 4’s PM, I would like to thank you for the excellent policing that I experienced at the Climate Change Camp from the men under your charge. Your policemen were truly wonderful and a true model for the type of policing that I would like to see in my street. In fact I think many areas of London and the other inner city areas elsewhere in the country would be delighted to see just a small percentage of the level of policing that you kindly provided during the week, and in particular on the day of protest.

If we had the level of policing that you provided we would never have to worry about burglaries, petty vandalism or anything else. I can only imagine the pleasing scenario, of my daughter going to the local shops and every time being escorted by at least three police officers fully equipped in riot gear. She would feel so safe. However, I have to say that strangely when your excellent chaps provided me with the same sort of protection on Sunday, I did not feel quite so safe. I work on the basis of three riot equipped police to escort my daughter to the shops, because that is about the ratio of riot police that seem to be surrounding me and the other climate change protesters.

I am delighted in the interview on Radio 4s PM that you explained that your officers had come under sustained missile attack. I now understand why your delightful men surrounded me. It was silly of me to miss the missiles that were obviously being thrown from the empty fields behind me and I must have missed the sound of the missiles landing on their helmets. I appreciate that this is an easy mistake that anyone can make in the heat of the moment.

It must have been one of these missiles that caused about nine of your officers to arrest a climate change protester just in font of me. I am so sorry if I misinterpreted your proportionate policing, because it did seem a bit brutal to me. Again we all make mistakes and I understand that in the heat of the moment your officers were scared and under the impression that we were going to attack them. That is me, an 86-year-old pensioner that I was helping, and two other protesters. If you do the maths you will realise that this is four.

When I asked the sergeant in charge what he was doing, he shouted in a somewhat threatening way for us to move back and one of his men shoved me with a riot shield. I asked if he was perhaps over reacting a bit. He said he was surrounded. I explained that there were four of us and about nine of his officers. We could try and surround him if he wanted, but it would be difficult. Fortunately, he was able to count and he seemed then to calm down. He also seemed to calm down even more when I took his photograph for my holiday snaps, which follows below. Perhaps he is just camera shy.

A few minutes later, another chap standing next to me got truncheoned over his head by one of your officers. Your officer was a strange sort of chap. He seemed rather aggressive, almost as if he enjoyed hitting things, perhaps that is one of the things that qualifies him for the job. The strangest thing of all is that he did not have number on his lapel, or on his helmet and he had a balaclava pulled right up to the bridge of his nose. So, as you can appreciate it is a bit difficult for me to describe him to you. All I can say is that he was standing next to another officer with the number 3678. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, that one of the most aggressive officers on your line had no number, or maybe I am drawing silly conclusions again. It did go through my mind that if I went into a petrol station like this I would not be served, it also stuck me as being a little strange when your web site you said “Some demonstrators were seen to cover their face.” Again, I may be have got this wrong, but it seemed to me that most of the covered faces were police faces.

I would also like to thank you for providing so much protection for the BAA offices. I realise that these offices were empty, like most offices are on a Sunday afternoon and that the protest was largely a token effort. But as you said in your interview, “You have got to believe a crime would be committed.” I would have been appalled if the BAA offices were blown up and I am quite sure that the risk of a protester carrying out a suicide attack on these empty offices would have been extremely high. After all, if you wanted to carry out a suicide attack, you would definitely choose the empty BAA offices rather than Terminal 1, where someone might get hurt.

You were also right to assume that protestors were armed and dangerous. Because you had stopped and searched just about everybody at the camp at least once, and found next to nothing, it was obvious that all the weapons were cunningly hidden and that your officers were in mortal danger. Also, you would have had no idea what the plans were because the protestors were so good at hiding from all the cameras that you had around the site, and they probably said very little to the undercover police who I am sure you must have had in the camp planning meetings. Certainly, given the rest of the policing I would be amazed if you did not have any undercover officers infiltrating the camp.

I am also delighted that you have allowed your organisation to be turned into a private army for BAA. They do after all have the right to make whatever profit they can manage irrespective of the environmental damage, and clearly a bunch of protestors who have noticed this need to be treated as dangerous terrorists. It does however seem a bit strange to me that a foreign owned company gets more protection from the police in this country than do the tax paying residents of this country. But, that is probably me being a cynical fool.

Perhaps you are just practicing for the future. The climate will get hotter in the coming years, the climate change protests will grow, the confrontations with short-term profit focused companies and the concerned population will intensify. Your position of out right and blatant support for those companies committing environment degradation will become morally untenable. To hear you acting as an apologist on the radio for your blatant over policing and the evident abuse of powers, with no media challenge, is the most damming threat to our democratic institutions and free speech that I have ever experienced, especially when virtaully all other means of democratic protest on the governements proposals have been removed and their current policies are so ill founded.

Yours Kevin Lister

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Letter to the Planning Office regarding Kemble airfield developments

Dear Richard,

I understand that you are currently the planning officer responsible for reviewing the planning appeal for Kemble aerodrome.

I would like add my input to any debate that you are having on this.

I currently live in Nailsworth which is approximately 10 miles from the airport. Though I am not in the immediate vicinity of the airport I am severely affected by the noise and I know of many others in my area who are likewise affected.

We have seen an exponential increase in noise nuisance over the last 18 months due to general aviation. Both myself and my wife regularly work from home. The noise irritation that we experience as planes circle overhead is best likened to the noise of a large blue bottle buzzing in the same room as you. It is often virtually impossible to concentrate on work, both inside and outside the house.

One of the worst culprits is the Ultimate High Company, which specialises in providing ego trip experiences such as airplane dog fighting for highly paid city executives, who clearly have no regard for the environment that they are damaging.

In desperation, I wrote to Ultimate High approximately two months ago and the companies on their client testimonial to complain about the noise. To date, I have had no response from any of them.

I have also complained to my MP (David Drew) about the increasing noise inconvenience. Mr. Drew has also written to the airport, as far as I am aware he is also still to receive a reply.

Despite these correspondences the noise continues to be a problem, and just this last weekend we had a prolonged dog fight taking place immediately above our house. As well as the noise nuisance, I believe it is irresponsible from a safety perspective to be dog fighting over residential areas and I am becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of my children.

I have also been made aware that if Staverton Airport at Gloucester is not given the go ahead to extend its runway, then the business jets that were proposing to base themselves there would now relocate to Kemble. In a period of intense concern about global warming this is absolutely unacceptable, especially when we are being urged to make cuts in our own CO2 emissions. It is also worth noting that the European air traffic data shows recreational destinations such as Nice, Cannes and Mallorca to be among the top destinations for "business aviation.”

The aviation industry has a consistent track record of distorting facts regarding their impact on the environment and has done everything possible to circumvent environmental and planning controls. Kemble aerodrome is following in this same pattern. They have been allowed a change of use of the airfield without any of the normal environmental impact assessments and should now be stopped before their business and operations become too entrenched to be curtailed in any way.

I trust that you will oppose planning consent for the aerodrome before it becomes an environmental disaster on our door step.

I am copying this email to both my MP (David Drew), and Geoffrey Clifton Brown, who is the MP for the Cotswolds whose constituency the aerodrome lies.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Lister

Friday, August 17, 2007

Letter the the Gloucester Echo on why we need debate on climate change

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my concern to you about the bias that your paper seems to be displaying towards the proposed expansion at Gloucestershire Airport.

As you are aware you have published various articles and letters in support of the airports expansion. Most recently, you published the letter from Darren Lewington (Operations Director of the Airport) and a follow up supporting letter from Peter Jacques. I have sent a letter to rebut Darren Lewington’s points and used your on line facilities to comment on Peter Jacques letter. Neither of these has been published. This is not the first time that my comments have not been published and I am aware that other people who oppose the airports expansion have also not had their letters and comments published.

The aviation industry regularly claims to be concerned about global warming and wants to enter into debate about it. It is therefore important that papers such as yours engage with this most important debate in a fair and rational position. It is especially important for local papers to engage in the debate because if action is to be taken to tackle climate change, it must start at the local grass roots level. This government has peddled the idea that there can be a painless solution found in grandiose schemes such as carbon trading and Kyoto protocols, this however has failed from all angles of analysis.Our only solution is grass roots change.

Gloucestershire Airport claims to be serious about global warming and the wider industry regularly says it want to debate the issue with climate campaigners. Please have the courage to use your privileged position so Gloucestershire Airport can in fact demonstate in public how serious they are about global warming by allowing debate and do not allow yoursevels to become simply a mouth piece of big business and vested interests.

If however, you are genuinely in favour of the airport, then again you should be clear on your case and say so, rather than trying an underhand campaign of selective publication. You should also explain in this argument how you would justify supporting the airport in the light of the evidence on climate change.

In case my on-line comments to Peter Jacques letter are not simply not being published due to some technical issue, and I am simply misinterpreting events then I enclose a copy below.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Lister


Peter's letter is an extremely poor interpretation of events.

Gloucestershire Airports own business plan shows that the business case is virtually none existent. At present rates of interest it will take 25 years to break even. If the interest rates increases further, this will extend to 45 years. Expansion of the airport therefore represents an extremely poor investment for the council tax payers of Gloucester and Cheltenham, especially in a time of economic uncertainty.

If flood response is the issue, the £2.5 million pounds to be invested in this scheme could be much better spent directly on flood prevention and appropriate emergency equipment.

Furthermore, the statement "Of course aircraft pollute, but so do most things in modern-day life," is not an argument to build the airport, in fact it is the strongest argument of all not to build the airport. We now inhabit a planet which is saturated with excess CO2 because so many things are polluting. The position is clear; we can not put any more CO2 into the atmosphere.

Peter should also realise that a key business sector for the airport’s expansion is “business jets.” He should also realise that European air traffic data shows recreational destinations such as Nice, Cannes and Mallorca to be among the top 20 destinations for "business aviation.” Thus business jets would be more appropriately named “recreational jets.” Thus, the most elite people of society are sticking two fingers up to climate change which is galling to those of us making sacrifices to cut our emissions. However, it might be that Peter already owns a “business jet.” He may wish to confirm this or if he has any other vested interests in the airport.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No Business case for Staverton Airport - copy of letter to the Gloucester Echo

Dear Editor,

Following Darren Lewington’s letter regarding the airports support during the flooding crisis, I would also like to congratulate his organisation for supporting the crisis. However, such support does not constitute a business case for the airport’s expansion which Darren Lewington's letter goes onto make (Citizen letters 9/08/07).

As I have pointed out in previous letters we face a critical danger from global warming and the recent flooding should be taken as a wake up call. The Nature magazine recently published research concluding that the flooding which has been experienced world wide is unequivocally linked to global warming.

We now face a period where food production across the world is falling due to the combined effects from global warming of droughts and floods and the desire to shift production to bio-fuels. This is coinciding with worldwide falls in oil production causing further prices rises. The total effect of these two major issues is that inflation is rising worldwide, causing corresponding increases in interest rates. All the indications are that the economic long term fundamentals are now in decline, and what we are seeing is not a simple market correction. As a result, this weekend the banks are standing on the precipice of a global liquidity crisis, and interest rates will stay painfully high for the long term.

This has a profound impact on the business case for Staverton Airport . Taking an optimistic estimate that the cost of borrowing will be 7%, and tax will be paid at 20%, then based on the airport’s business plan, it will take over 25 years to pay back the initial investment. If the cost of borrowing rises to only 8%, it will take approximately 45 years to pay back the investment, so bad is the business case. Thus the airport expansion is an extremely bad deal for the council tax payers of Gloucester and Cheltenham .

There can only two outcomes for the council tax payers of Gloucester and Cheltenham . They will either have to bail out the investment if the business fails, or they will suffer far more noise and pollution from the airport than it has claimed as it tries to ramp up the number of aircraft far beyond the current public predictions of service growth to obtain a reasonable return on investment.

As well as upholding the obligation on climate change and protecting the local environment, it is also vital that the elected councillors ensure that their constituents are not faced with unnecessary financial risk and that their taxes are effectively spent. If an important aspect of the business case for the airport's expansion will be the provision of support in the case of future flooding caused by global warming, then the council should first of all ask if the money it plans to spend on the expansion of the airport could not be better spent on investment in the appropriate emergency equipment instead; or on flood protection in the Bath Road area.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Correspondence with the new Minister for Aviation, Jim Fitzpatrick

The correspondence below is Jim Firtpatrick's reply to the previous letter that was sent to Gillian Merrron (his predecessor) and my subsequent reply. The basic synopsis is that the Ministry for aviation still has no evidence to quantify the environmental damage that their proposed airport expansion is likely to inflict. It reinforces the view that they appear intent on pushing forward the developments against all the mounting environmental evidence of dangerous climate change and are not able to provide event the slightest credible argument as to how the environmental damage can be reduced.

Further to this, the uncertainty of such a weak argument is damaging to the share holders of BAA who have been unable to refinance their debt. see the article in today's Telegraph.

Again, I must thank my MP, David Drew, for his persistence and efforts in helping to clarify the government's position and test the strength of their arguments.


My reply to Jim Fitzpatrick's Letter.

David Drew MP
House of Commons,

2 August 2007

Dear David,

Thank you for pursuing my latest letter to the minister of Aviation and please do thank Mr. Fitzpatrick for his reply.

I do however take issue with his comments and it would appear from his response that he has not thought through the implications of some of the facts and figures that he is quoting.

Mr Fitzpatrick has stated that the industry seeks to improve fuel efficiency by 50% on new planes. The Sustainable Development Initiative does not quote 50% for new aircraft, as 5-10% of the 50% improvement is based on improved air traffic management. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the industry only expects new aircraft to achieve a 40% improvement in efficiency.

More concerning is the statement in the 2003 report “The Future of Air Transport” (ref Chapter 3 on the Environmental Impact of Aviation) where it states “Research targets agreed by the Advisory Council for Aeronautical Research in Europe suggest that a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 production by 2020 can be achieved.” This document formed the basis of the airport expansion strategy’s position on climate change. There is no reference what so ever about the 50% relating only to new aircraft. The reference to new aircraft was changed in the progress report of 2006 where it states “a target to improve fuel efficiency by 50 per cent per seat kilometre in new aircraft in 2020 compared to 2000.” This is a very much less demanding criterion than was initially stated in the original paper. There is no evidence that this reduction in aspiration was challenged or that the environmental impact been reassessed in light of this fundamental change.

Furthermore the government’s central and best-case scenarios assume that the 50% target efficiencies are achieved. However, the Aviation and Global Warming report, to which Mr. Fitzpatrick refers, states in no uncertain terms how difficult it will be to achieve these targets. The report states, “Full achievement of the targets will require the employment of novel concepts and breakthrough technologies into commercial service.” Given this, one would assume that there is a high risk that the targeted efficiency improvements will not materialise due to unforeseen technical issues. For example, serious questions are being asked about lightening protection with the new Boeing 787. Also, the report highlights that efficiency in engines is now at a virtual optimum and that making CO2 emissions improvements will be a the expense of higher NOx emissions, which is an extremely aggressive greenhouse gas. Thus the words “best-case scenario” could equally be replaced with “least likely scenario.”

Furthermore Mr. Fitzpatrick confirms that the 50 per cent efficiency target is an industry target and not a government target. This implies that if the industry does not achieve the publicised targets, then the government will take no action. Could Mr. Fitzpatrick confirm that this is in fact the case?

Critically, as established with Mr Fitzpatrick’s predecessor, the industry does not capture total CO2 emissions per passenger. So whilst the new generation of planes will be more efficient, the reduction in CO2 emissions per km is being wiped out by the longer haul nature of the journeys. This lack of critical data also suggests that it is difficult to have any meaningful discussion on future CO2 emissions from aviation. It is also violates the commitments made in the Future of Aviation document and the subsequent progress report which both committed to improving the data on aviation emissions.

Mr Fitzpartick states that domestic flights only account for 0.4% of UK emissions. This does not relate to the figures from the Environmental Audit Committee and clearly does not take account of additional radiative forcing, or future growth. Furthermore, international travel contributes by far the most emissions and the airport expansion in this country is targeted at supporting international travel.

I have repeatedly asked what progress has been made in getting the aviation industry incorporated into a Carbon Trading mechanism and what timetables we can expect as this is the lynch pin of the government’s policy. I note that Mr. Fitzpatrick says “The Future of Air Transport document highlights that emissions can be managed through a well-designed, international emissions trading scheme and that the International Civil Aviation Organisation has been leading this, but progress is slow.” Slow progress is hardly a surprise. The world does not have any well-designed, international trading schemes for any carbon emissions. It would be helpful if Mr. Fitzpatrick could articulate exactly what he means by a well-designed, international emissions trading scheme. As existing carbon trading schemes have been so contentious, it is no surprise that something as difficult as civil aviation is finding it hard to come up with one. Furthermore, if this is being lead by the Civil Aviation Organisation, then slow progress can only be expected due to the inherently vested interests of an organisation such as this.

Mr. Fitzpatrick goes on to say “Under the arrangements currently proposed by the European Commission, any increases in carbon emissions from flights departing from or arriving at EU airports would need to be offset by emission reductions made elsewhere in the economy.” This clearly depends on suitably robust CO2 emissions targets that force cuts elsewhere in the economy. Could Mr. Fitzpatrick confirm that any current targets or aspiration for targets will not simply be increased to accommodate the full global warming impact of aviation and avoid the necessary cuts having to be made elsewhere in the economy? The footnote on page 28 of the Draft Climate Change bill suggests that if aviation were incorporated into a carbon-trading scheme the CO2 emissions targets would be increase to accommodate it? Furthermore, could Mr. Fitzpatrick confirm that if cuts cannot be made elsewhere in the economy, would the government curtail additional growth in the aviation industry?

Mr. Fitpatrick also says “emissions trading allows the market to determine where the most effective emissions reductions can be made.” It is rather worrying that Mr. Firtpatrick seems only intent on articulating the end goal rather than thinking through how it would be achieved, how feasible it is to expect the market to deliver the cuts, and what timetable of carbon reductions would subsequently follow. Could Mr Fitzpatrick explain if any analysis has actually been carried out on the markets ability to accommodate the full impact of aviation’s contribution to global warming and what risks are foreseen? I would also appreciate a copy of any analysis that has been completed under the freedom of information act.

If there is no evidence to satisfactorily answers these questions, does Mr. Fitzpatrick agree that in light of the extreme risks of run away global warming, that we should be adopting a precautionary principle and not allowing any further development of the aviation industry until we understand exactly what total emissions improvements will be achieved from operational aircraft and what levels of carbon can be offset through the proposed trading mechanisms.

Yours truly

Kevin Lister, Bsc(eng) hons, MBA


Jim Fitpatricks Letter (to David Drew MP)

Thank you for your letter of 18 June to my predecessor enclosing further correspondence from your constituent Mr Kevin Lister of Brooklyn, Park Road Crescent, Nailsworth, Stroud, regarding aviation and the environment. This letter set out a number of points which I have attempted to address in turn below.

The target to improve fuel efficiency by 50% by 2020 referred to in previous correspondence is a target that has been adopted by the aviation industry's Sustainable Development Initiative and is not a Government target. It is a target that measures improvements in fuel efficiency in new aircraft entering the fleet and not aggregate fuel efficiency to which the graph in your letter refers.

In our published CO2 forecasts, we presented three scenarios - central, best and worst case - reflecting different assumptions on aspects such as economic instruments and fuel efficiency. Both our central and best case scenarios assume that the target mentioned above for new aircraft has filtered through such that the whole fleet has improved its fuel efficiency by 50% by 2050 (i.e. it is assumed that in that longer time frame, fleet turnover will have made the whole fleet more efficient). Further information can be found in the DfT publication Aviation and Global Warming: warmingreport.

Emissions from international aviation and shipping are not included in the targets of the Climate Change Bill as there is currently no agreement on how to allocate these international emissions to national inventories.

The Bill does however cover CO2 emissions from domestic flights which currently account for 0.4% of UK CO2 emissions.

The UK Government is not discounting or ignoring these international emissions, and in fact we do report on international aviation emissions in our national inventory as a memo item, along with emissions from international shipping. The fact that emissions from international aviation and shipping are not included in the draft Climate Change Bill does not mean that we are not taking action to tackle the climate change impacts of aviation.

On the contrary, the Future of Air Transport White Paper sets out our commitment to ensuring that aviation reflects the full costs of its climate change emissions and highlights that the most efficient way of doing this is through a well-designed, international emissions trading scheme. As a result, the UK has been and continues to press for the development and implementation of such a regime through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). However, progress to date at this level has been slow so in the meantime we have worked towards the extension of the EU emissions trading scheme to include aviation. In December 2006, the Commission published its draft proposal and since then the UK has been actively participating in negotiations to ensure that aviation is incorporated into the scheme as soon as possible.

Under the arrangements currently proposed by the European Commission, any increases in carbon emissions from flights departing from or arriving at EU airports would need to be offset by emission reductions made elsewhere in the economy. The Commission's impact assessment estimates that this proposed scheme could reduce aviation emissions by up to 183MtC annually by 2020.

Mr Lister asks about how a reduction in aviation emissions will take place and what impact this will have on other sectors bound by emissions reductions targets. We believe that by establishing a market price for carbon, emissions trading encourages efficient behaviours which reflects the demand for carbon across the whole economy. So rather than making industry-specific carbon targets, which would be arbitrary and inflexible, emissions trading allows the market to determine where the most effective emissions reductions can be made, allowing those companies who innovate to benefit and those who find it more difficult to contribute by funding reductions made elsewhere. This approach was endorsed by Sir Nicholas Stern's report on the economics of climate change, which strongly supports carbon pricing as a means of ensuring that economic decisions fully reflect social and environmental costs.

The Government has been very active in engaging with industry throughout the development of both the Future of Air Transport white paper and the draft Directive on including aviation the emissions trading scheme. In fact, the joint DfT and Defra consultation on emissions trading recently closed and involved extensive discussions with airlines, wider industry, NGOs and other interested parties. The views and information provided through the consultation will feed into the policy development in the coming months to ensure that aviation is included in the EU emissions trading scheme in the most environmentally effective way.

hope you find this information useful.