November, 2007 Volume 12, Issue 3 (including Special Federal Election Update) Federal elections 2007: No Hope versus False Hope The Liberal Government is offering no hope for future reductions in aircraft noise. They’ve done all they’re going to do and they’ve dumped most of the noise onto Labor electorates. By diverting take offs to the north west while over the Labor seat of Lowe, they have reduced the noise over Bennelong and North Sydney, held by Howard and Hockey. Howard approved Macquarie Bank’s Master Plan for Sydney Airport which aims to triple passenger numbers and massively increase the noise over the next twenty years. It will also concentrate noise north of the airport again as the east west runway can only be used when flights are below 45 per hour. In addition the Liberals have privatized the general aviation airport at Bankstown and allowed the new owners to plan for commercial flights. Again they have dumped the noise onto Labor electorates and by choosing a small airport for Sydney’s second airport, they have ensured that all the big jets stay in the inner city. No hope from the Liberals. Labor’s policy is to “develop an integrated Sydney Transport Plan that provides for Sydney’s future airport needs, including a preferred second Sydney airport site outside the Sydney basin. Labor will maintain the cap and curfew at [Sydney] Kingsford Smith Airport and implement the Long Term Operating plan maximizing take offs over water” Local Labor members, when pressed, will point to the second airport plan to identify a site, but that is only a false hope. Labor will still allow Macquarie Bank to carry out its Master Plan which is possible under the cap and curfew limitations. Macquarie will push the airlines to use larger aircraft and try to lever smaller regional aircraft out to Bankstown. Labor parliamentarians opposed the Master Plan, but nothing in Labor’s policy will prevent it. In the long term, the only solution to ever worsening aircraft noise over Sydney suburbs is to move the airport outside the city, our policy which is supported by the Greens. This airport is making us sick - Jets raise blood pressure in Kurnell A study by Sydney academics has found that people in Kurnell are more likely to have higher chronic noise stress and blood pressure as a result of aircraft noise. Kurnell was compared to a similar demographic suburb at South Penrith, which is not affected by aircraft noise. Kurnell was chosen as it experiences noise above 70 decibels (dBA) more than fifty times a day. 70 decibels is enough to interrupt conversations inside a house. The study used a detailed questionnaire to ask people about their health problems and screen out other reasons for high blood pressure, like smoking or being overweight. The World Health Organisation’s definition that “health includes physical, psychological and social well being” was used as the starting point for the research. The authors state that existing noise measurements “underestimate the social impact of aircraft noise because health effects have been ignored when formulating environmental management plans at airports.” Suburbs with similar noise from jets stretch from Drummoyne to Kurnell on the north south flight paths and from Rockdale to Daceyville on the east west flight paths. Good medicine – bad public policy The study looked at the possible ways to remove or reduce aircraft noise – relocating the airport “as in fact was achieved in Hong Kong and Jakarta.” But they said it’s hard to find a new site and the commercial interests in the present airport make closure unlikely. The study suggests a return to concentrating noise on the north – south runways as a way of reducing the number of people affected, but don’t mention that this makes extreme noise in those suburbs. What about extending the quiet period of the curfew by two hours and making the quiet time from 10 pm to 7am. But this would take out up to 160 flights a day from the private owners who would want compensation. Similarly extending the noise insulation scheme would be extremely costly. “The benefits of an improvement to the quality of life of residents, community facilities and educational establishments would have to be calculated to argue for the enormous costs of this extra building insulation scheme.” However, the researchers want to try relaxation techniques and Mental Silence based Sahaja Yoga Meditation to see if that helps residents cope with the noise. How they are going to find yoga teachers for 150,000 people has yet to be explained. Would residents have free classes and would they be compensated for their time? This proposal is another example of dumping the problem on the victims instead of reducing the pollution at its source. Climate Change to Limit Aviation’s Future?In 1999 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that the aviation industry accounted for 2% of greenhouse gas emissions in 1992, but that this would rise to as much as 15% by 2050.The cost of air transport has decreased rapidly over the years, and air travel is growing at about 5% a year. Hence it is not surprising to find emissions from aviation growing faster than any other industry sector. To make matters worse, air travel produces far more carbon dioxide (CO2), than any other form of public transport. Its not just the CO2, jet contrails have a surprisingly big effect on the climate, so much so that restrictions on night flights has been suggested as a way of easing aviation industry’s contribution to global warming.The environmental damage caused by planes is not being paid for, and environmentalists are justifiably angry, complaining that airlines get a free ride when it comes to environmental taxes. Indeed as a aircraft fuel is taxed no more than 2.5c a litre, the free ride extends beyond that of the environment. With global warming becoming a very big issue, airline company realise that they are in the firing line.In mid 2007, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), urged the aerospace industry to develop a passenger aircraft with zero carbon emissions within the next 50 years. It is hard to see this happening. Giovanni Bisignani, the director general of IATA, said that aviation’s carbon footprint was growing, and that was not politically acceptable for any industry.In September, Qantas and Jetstar became the latest airlines to join the rush to improve their green credentials. The airlines introduced a voluntary scheme whereby all contributions are to go towards multiple abatement programs, which may include energy efficiency measures, generation of renewable energy and tree planting projects. There is an added bonus for airlines in buying green credits, because it is a tax write-off in Australia.Critics say these carbon offset programs do not have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions, but just relieve the guilty consciences of air travellers because they pay a fee. Greenpeace argues that these schemes avoid the real problem, and that the solution should be about reducing the number of flights. Short trips are of particular concern, a 747 for example, uses 16 tonnes of fuel to take-off, the equivalent of running six family cars for a year. Jeff Angel, from the Total Environment Centre, made a striking point when he said it would take 40-50 years for trees to capture the carbon emissions. Eyes on the prize: what chance to move Sydney Airport? There are four possible options for the future of airports for Sydney:
One big airport at Mascot This limits the economic benefit of aviation as the site is smaller than required and is limited by the necessity of a night time curfew to allow residents some seven quiet hours. Access to the city is good, but at the expense of local people copping tonnes of noise, air pollution and an unacceptable level of risk. This a very bad option for quality of life for Sydney people. The existing airlines like this option as it limits the space for new competitors, especially in the domestic airline market. Big Mascot and small second airport This is the Liberal government’s option. Bankstown is the de facto second Sydney airport and will be allowed to take regional and smaller interstate passenger flights. Having these flights at a second airport allows space at the main airport to operate more large jets. Like Sydney Airport, Bankstown is surrounded by housing, so this is the worst possible option for Sydney residents. Current airport and a big second airport Some people think that this could work, moving all or most of the big international jets to a new airport and keeping regional and interstate flights at Mascot. The new airport would be costly and little extra land would be released at Mascot to pay for it. If only some airlines moved their flights to the second airport, it would create a winners and losers situation amongst the airlines, discouraging new airline operators. Existing airlines would try to retain their international flights access to Mascot. For this option to be any use in relieving noise in the city, it must have a main runway 4 kilometres long to be able to take long haul international jets and a cross wind runway of 2.5 kilometres for strong cross wind periods. It should be in an area assessed for all of Sydney’s future air traffic, so that it may eventually become Sydney’s replacement airport. One big airport out of town This would allow the present site to be sold after the move to fund the new airport. Properly located, a new airport would affect very few people and if all affected homes are insulated, may be able to operate 24 hours. A new site could be designed to have an efficient layout, unlike Mascot which has grown by succeeding patch-ups. The new airport would need to be connected to the city by electric trains. The abandoned second Sydney airport site of Wilton is near rail and motorway links to the city. A replacement airport will be the best option to solve Sydney’s aircraft noise problem. It will allow 900 hectares of inner city land to be developed for housing and modern industry, as well as freeing up the limitations on surrounding land imposed by the present airport. This will allow a more compact city for our future of high energy prices and the need to reduce greenhouse gases. NAN stunts soon to take off We are looking for NAN members with ideas for stunts that will highlight themes like “this airport is making us sick”, “this airport is ripping us off” and “this town’s too big for an airport in the middle”. So far we have ideas like giving out cards at a petrol garage with Qantas thanking motorists for subsidizing Qantas almost tax free fuel, setting up an Infrequent Flyers Points Scheme and giving away carrots to departing passengers to highlight the amount of food that is flown around the world with colossal green house gas impact. We’re looking for people who would like to take part and people who have ideas for some fun send ups. Call Ray Smith on 9559 4029 if you want to be in the action. NAN research help sought To be effective in the media and on our new web site, we need lots of research on aircraft health impacts, crash data, politics, aircraft technical info and successful airport actions from around the world. If you would like to part of this, please call Allan Rees on 9516 4683 or 0417 400 892. Email to email@example.com. Disappointing response in Leichhardt The meeting held by NAN in Leichhardt had a low turn out, but saw a good discussion amongst the people who turned up. The most common way of contacting NAN after we had leafleted people was by email. We decided that the best way of campaigning would be by email and using our website. The website is being upgraded at present and a new format will be launched soon.August, 2007 Volume 12, Issue 2 Why the tax holiday for aviation fuel?The Federal Government must end the tax subsidy for greenhouse producing aviation fuel, a subsidy which amounted to $770 million in 2001/2. Aviation is the most polluting form of transport per passenger kilometre, yet is subsidised by other forms of transport which produce less greenhouse gases.
Domestic aviation fuel is taxed at a mere 2.8 cents per litre, way below other transport fuels, and international aviation fuel is not taxed at all, under aviation agreements. It is amazing that aircraft emissions were not included in the Kyoto Protocol and this must be rectified in the next round of greenhouse gas reductions.
Health conference on air quality in tunnels The recent National Health and Medical Research Council conference discussed the need for new regulations for road tunnels. There was a widely held opinion that the current ’rules’ look inadequate and that, besides carbon monoxide- the only component currently regulated - it is important to consider nitrogen dioxide and particles, both by themselves, but more importantly acting together. The M5 East looks to be amongst the worst polluted urban tunnels in the developed world. What is considered bad in Europe is a daily event in the M5. Proposed development of the Whenuapai Airbase as a second commercial airport for Auckland. Residents of the Upper Harbour environs and North Shore of Auckland are facing a massive increase in Airport traffic if a proposed new commercial airport goes ahead. Until about the mid-1960’s Whenuapi was the International Airport for Auckland. With the advent of wide bodied jets, a new airport was built at Mangere (Auckland International Airport). Currently the airport has minimal daily traffic with flights by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNAF) only. This has a minimal impact on the public from a noise perspective. In contrast, the proposed airport will have no curfew and will operate 24 x 7 all year. In 2004, the NZ government decided that the RNAF would move its operations from Whenuapai to the current RNZAF base at Ohakea, which is nowhere near a major city. A recent public consultation process with regard to alternative uses for Whenuapai Airbase received 2600 submissions and 97% of these were against any plan for a commercial airport at Whenuapai. These included submissions from many members of the public as well as government bodies such as the Ministry of Defence, Auckland Regional Council, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Board of Airline Representatives NZ (BARNZ). A ‘whole of government’ report by The Ministry of Economic Development also conclusively showed that such a development was completely unnecessary for at least 30-50 years. Auckland International Airport is due to build a second runway in the near future and even now is operating well under its capacity. The Waitakere City Council (WCC), the territorial authority responsible for the proposed airport, is attempting to rezone the land from countryside to a special airport area so that commercial operations can be started. It has partnered with Infratil (an owner and operator of businesses in the energy, airport and public transport sectors) in a commercial venture. The Council has also spent what is believed to a substantial sum of ratepayers’ money to run a publicity campaign and lobby neighbouring councils to join them in forming a commercial alliance with Infratil. Both WCC and Infratil will benefit financially from the proposed commercial venture, and this promise of revenue is the real reason Waitakere City Council is pursuing this venture. The proposed economic and community advantages of a commercial airport put forward by the proponents have been easily debunked for the smokescreen they are. The effects of such an airport would impact on numerous residents, schools and reduce the attractiveness of the area without even knowing if it can succeed at a commercial level in the first instance. This is another example of the distorted outcomes that can occur when local authorities and governments ignore public opinion and enter into commercial arrangements with business with no transparency in process. Waitakere City Council is now considering whether it will appoint its own Councillors to hear the submissions on the proposed rezoning or, as objectors are demanding, involve independent Commissioners. If it uses its own Councillors the outcome is a foregone conclusion and an appeal to the Environmental Court will be required by the opponents including Whenuapai Airbase Action Group (WAAG) The appeal is anticipated to cost up to $150,000. If you wish to find out more about this issue or donate money to support their cause visit www.waag.co.nz. March, 2007 Volume 12, Issue 1
Transport Minister refuses permission for airport shops
M5 tunnel blowing out both ends Community concern continues to mount over the RTA’s proposal to pump unfiltered tunnel pollution out of the M5 East tunnel’s end rather than through the stack as required by the original Department of Planning conditions. The RTA has submitted an application to modify the approval for the M5 to the Department of Planning, which has the power to accept or reject the proposal. Documents recently released in Parliament show that the Departments of Health and Environment fear that it will cause serious health impacts on residents close to the tunnel’s Bexley North and Marsh St, Arncliffe portals. The RTA admits that there have already been some portal emissions, claiming them to be the results of tunnel ’incidents’ or maintenance. Residents Opposing polluting Stacks opposes the proposal going ahead as planned and demands instead that any such emissions be filtered and properly dispersed and that a comprehensive examination of potential health risks be carried out before any changes are made to the tunnel’s operation. End