Thursday, October 09, 2008

When did Friends of the Earth Start Writing Tory Aviation Policy?

Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villers has just sent out this press release...

Villiers: Hoon turns to BAA to write his aviation policy

Geoff Hoon’s first move as Transport Secretary has been to approve plans to increase the flight numbers at Stansted airport.

Commenting on the announcement, Shadow Transport Secretary, Theresa Villiers said:
“We have always taken the view that Stansted could, with some important safeguards, handle more passengers with its existing runway. Nevertheless we are concerned about a number of issues particularly as it seems to have taken less than a week for Geoff Hoon to allow BAA to start writing Government aviation policy.

“Will the extra flights mean that flying hours will be extended with implications for quality of life for local residents? It was only two years ago the government tried to lift the night cap on designated airports - a move we fought strongly against. And what is being done to improve the rail service to Stansted, which has actually deteriorated in recent years?

“As with a third runway at Heathrow, Conservatives strongly oppose a second runway at Stansted.”

This is puerile politics. It is fatuous to accuse BAA of writing government aviation policy. Only a few weeks ago it was announced that BAA had to lose two of its airports. I suspect it would be difficult to imagine BAA penning that particular policy. BAA has no doubt put forward arguments and they have been accepted - either in whole or in part. I too am very sceptical about the merits of expanding Stansted, but to turn your face against any sort of expansion in the South East is to turn your face against economic expansion in general. Now that they have ruled out expansion at both Heathrow and Stansted, does this mean the Conservatives now support expansion at Gatwick? I suspect not. In which case, the natural implication is that they are happy for business to disappear over the channel to Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. It's a reasonable position to hold, but one I never thought I would see the Conservative Party promulgating.

If you accuse BAA of writing government aviation policy, it is then perfectly reasonable for Labour to accuse the Tories of allowing their aviation policy to be written by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Either accusation is, of course, laughable, but then so is this press release.


Blackacre said...

It is not the airport that makes the business but the business. As most of the Heathrow traffic is transit, they add nothing to the economy save BAA landging fees and a couple of quid in Starbucks. If that goes elsewhere to be relaced by destination traffic for people who want to do business here, then we will be better off.

I think the Tories have made the right decision here which will enhance their standing in most of wets London (some key seats here). Less cynically, they are doing something for the people not for the perceived needs of the transport elite. Good on them. They may even get my vote for the first time ever, although I will probably stick with Cleggover as the Libs have the same policy on this and do not have the Tory downside.

canvas said...

Iain, another knee jerk reaction?
Sometimes your monolithic views are so tiring...

Your argument of business moving to the continent doesn't hold up - and it's an overplayed theory.

iain, there is more than one way to progress...
try to have an open mind.

Anonymous said...

Theresa Villiers! Incompentent and ineffective - Why is she still on the front bench?

Anonymous said...

I watched Theresa Villiers on the Daily Politics yesterday. She had no response to Andrew Neill's assertion that the Tories have never opposed City bonuses until the last 48 hours. She looked out of her depth. Time to go!

Tony Sharp said...

Paris and Amsterdam will become European hub airports, relegating London to a mere spoke in aviation terms. We must either expand and dramatically improve Heathrow or start building a new London airport.

Businesses are no longer tied to one location. We are seeing them up sticks and move HQs overseas to benefit from lower taxes. They can do the same if London does not provide the transport infrastructure necessary to facilitate its place as an international business city.

It is bad enough that this release included such a daft assertion, but coming hard on the heels of yesterday's refusal to hold the government to account over the financial bail out I am wondering what on earth our front bench is playing at.

Anonymous said...

Dave has a pro active policy of promoting Lady Tories. It's time he faced reality and admitted that he got it wrong with Villiers and Spelman.

Matthew said...

It is all very well wanting airport expansion in London and the South East, but the reality is that the rest of our infrastructure can't cope with any more people living in this part of the country. We must move away from merely thinking about growing London and to thinking about how we spread economic growth to the rest of the country (and I speak as someone who was born in Greater London and has always lived here, who would move out of the South East if I could find an as-well paid job somewhere else...)

Anonymous said...

I thought Greenpeace & FOE did write the Tory Aviation Policy.
In fact don't they write all the Tory Policies to do with Energy, the Environment and Climate Change ?

Anonymous said...

Why are the Tories against another runway at Heathrow? with all the infrastructure in place at Heathrow it is madness to consider building yet another airport. If we were starting from scratch then yes but we are not.

Can't understand when the M42 was built they did not include a Hi speed rail link as part of it either.

Anonymous said...

anon at 1:22 says: "Can't understand when the M42 was built they did not include a Hi speed rail link as part of it either."

yes, and why did they have to build a castle so close to Heathrow airport? these idiot planners.

neil craig said...

100% agree Iain & it takes courage to mount such a frontal attack on this Conservative position.

Air traffic is growing at nearly 10% a year & with the oil crisis of earlier in the year being over & prices falling, Britain should not count itelf out of the world economy. Paris will indeed become the hub if choose to give up that important position.

If the party are committed to economic success & many other party papers have made important moves in that direction, then they must sometimes make the tough decisions. They can promise a growing economy or they can promise to prevent anybody doing anything & we have already had 11 years of the latter. Nobody wants ANYTHING in their own backyard but we all recognise that they must go somewhere.

215cu said...

Stansted never will be a business airport, it's a charter and low-cost carrier airport.

So economically, this is small-fry.

The big lie spun by the aviation business is it is important.

It is not. The aviation industry contributes as much in GDP terms as the waste and sewage treatment industry.

In terms of it's economic contribution - more people fly out of the UK than fly in. Aviation flies money out of the economy, not in.

Add to the fact they pay no duty on fuel, even at public transport levels and this is a huge subsidy.

No wonder air travel keeps growing, people are not paying the true cost of aviation to this country let alone for the fuel.

As for Heathrow, there is one rather spectacular fact hindering further development.

EU2010 air pollution laws have most of the Heathrow area in violation for PM10 and NO2 pollution. These are not small amounts but very large, too large to deal with.

Unless you severely restrict movement on the M4 and M25.

The pollution violation is sufficient that there will be legal grounds for residents to take BAA and the Government to court.

To expand Heathrow would require 35,000 people to be settled elsewhere and 10,000 homes would be unsafe to live in on these grounds alone.

And this from BAA and BA who promised at the T5 enquiry for no further development if they got T5.

Indeed the QC in charge of the T5 Public enquiry concluded it was be socially and environmentally wreckless to puruse more development.

If this country wants to compete with CDG and Schipol, build a massive airport in the Thames Estuary.

And get someone else other than BAA to build and run it.

BAA's main interest is this - build an even bigger shopping centre and even bigger footfall to make more retail profits. Flying is a total incidental for them.

Tory policy on this matter is absolutely spot-on.

Anonymous said...

Theresa May - wasn't she the buffoon who called the Tories "the Nasty Party".

Does she also advise on PR?

Anonymous said...

I regularly fly from Stansted on low cost carriers for business purposes. However,as you would expect from a low cost hub, most of the flights are full of people going on cheap breaks abroad. Nothing wrong with that but why pretend it has anything to do with 'staying competitive'.

Heathrow of course is a different matter and I am rather surprised that the conservatives are happy to accept the status quo when it is clear that something relatively radical needs to be done.

Anonymous said...

Conflict of interest Iain?

Didn't you mention recently that mum & dad have a farm at Saffron Waldon - next door to Standsted isn't it?

Ross said...

Hear, hear!

Iain, this entry (especially the last line) is precisely why people like me visit this blog -- and that's despite your lunacy viz Sarah Palin and other recent bugbears.

ross said...

P.S. One of the Anonymouses is confusing his Theresas. May was indeed the women who called the Tories the nasty party (well, she said that was how others might have perceived them in the past -- she was quite right -- though she has been misquoted almost as much as Jim Callaghan's "mounting chaos" remark). Villiers is the Transport spokesman and author of the press release in question.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 2.20. No conflict at all. My parents' home is the other side of Saffron Walden and not on the flight path so far as I know.

trevorsden said...

Looks like Dolly's got it in for women today - sounds like he treats women as nastily as Prescott does. Does Mrs Dolly know, or maybe she likes it that way.

On with the thread ...

Nope ...

Heathrow is in the wrong place - it should not get a third runway - and I speak as a died in the wool anti global warming Tory. We should follow the Japanese lead take the opportunity of building a complete new airport, a la 'Boris Island', and put the Heathrow site to productive use.

Anonymous said...

"It is bad enough that this release included such a daft assertion, but coming hard on the heels of yesterday's refusal to hold the government to account over the financial bail out I am wondering what on earth our front bench is playing at."

Very gutsy for a Tory Councillor Tony Sharp. You've presumably no plans to become a Tory MP?

Ross F said...

I also agree with this post, although it's a surprising thing for someone who wants to be a Tory MP to say.

Jenni said...

I couldn't agree with you more Iain. The Tories have been panicked into the ZacGoldsmithisation of the party. What happened to supporting business and trade? Let alone promoting Britain's world standing. I am appalled that this woman is Shaow Transport Secretary.

Anonymous said...

It is critical that Tories support airport expansion (be it Stansted, Heathrow or Thames Estuary) - it is, and has always been, the vast majority view of party members and only the Goldsmith lobby and (understandably) a handful of MPs around the airports have not supported this view. Hence why so many people turned up to pro-aviation fringes at conference last week. This is not dangerous territory, it is naturally conservative territory, and it is astonishing that some say that anyone who questions these barmy policies of Villiers and Goldsmith is tantamount to a political career death wish.

Sue Luxton said...

If only it were true . . .

Anonymous said...

Why don't they make RAF Northolt Heathrow's third runway?

Problem solved Easy Peasy.

Tom Harris MP said...

Iain - excellent popst, and you're spot on. Obviously I hope the Tories don't win the next election, but if they do, it would be disastrous for the economy if they implemented their current policies. High-speed rail lines may well have their place, but they would do virtually nothing to relieve congestion at Heathrow, leading international business to vote with their feet and abandon London for European destinations instead. It really will not wash.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I see Iain is accepting the usual lazy route of accepting BAAs nostrums at face value.

Lie #1. Traffic will go to Frankfurt if British airports don't expand. No evidence to support this has ever been put forward. It is simply repeated ad nauseum by BAA mouthpieces.

Fact #1. Politicians of all persuausions except a few honorable ones seem to take the lazy way out and simply phone BAA to ask what to do. As with so much of the public sector these days, they seem to not be aware that this is actually a private operator with vested commercial interests. Ruth Kelly appeared to think it was her job to simply read BAA press releases to camera.

Anyone who lives anywhere near an airport (which is a growing percentage of the population) will be sick to death of the night freight flights in particular, which appear to be virtually unregulated.

There is a lot of evidence by contrast that sending goods by train through the tunnel is both cheaper and better for the environment.

canvas said...

anon and Iain Dale - listen up - the ever increasing number of late night and early morning FED EX flights going over Saffron Walden to Stansted airport this past year is disturbing in many ways.

There is a noticeable difference in the number of flights - and it does reduce the residents quality of life.

These FedEx flights are not supposed to fly over town but they do - it's all well documented.

It will only get worse. There is not a good public transport infrastructure at Stansted to support any further growth. Things are stretched to the max already. Let's face it the Stansted Express sucks. It really does.

So - I say - go Tories go! hahaha but I still might not vote for you.


Anonymous said...

The last anonymous poster (3.57pm) seems to ignore the morality of allowing people to travel. Travel increases humanitarian and environmental awareness in a far greater way than wanting to live some Good Life style existence as supported by the eco-loonie who all happen to have zillions in the bank and have seen it all on lucious gap years. Tell your average family of 4 who have been able to go abroad on holiday for the last few years because of cheap flights that they'll have to pay more in the future because of knee-jerk 'green taxes' and a lack of airport capacity thanks to a future Tory governemnt and they'll never vote for us. Travel is a morally good thing.

hmrf said...

Nice dinner with BAA recently? Did they pay?

I do agree with you, however.

canvas said...

anon at 4;12> take the Eurostar then you selfish me me me person.


canvas said...

hmrf> are you actually saying that Iain Dale is taking earmarks from BAA? pork bellies perhaps?

Iain, you pat their back and they'll pat yours?

Say it ain't so, Iain, say it ain't so. (to paraphrase your lunatic idol)

Iain Dale said...

Yes, they bought me dinner (along with a dozen others) at the Tory Conference (something which I was open about at the time). So that obviously means that everything they do and say I will naturally back and support, of course. What kind of warped world do we live in? Especially when in my post I was quite clear that I do not agree that Stansted should be expanded massively. And just for the record a quick Google search would tell you that I supported Heathrow Runway 3 months ago.

hmrf said...

…just thought you should maybe remind people.

You are always going to leave yourself open to such accusations when you accept hospitality from BAA and then subsequently support their stance... even if it hasn’t changed your judgements.

Anyway, as i said, i do agree with you.

Anonymous said...

so Iain, no golfing weekends in Spain then?
Do I smell sizzling bacon? porkie bellies? hahaha.

neil craig said...

The Anonymice are out in force today.

As a, perhaps not entirly typical example of greenspeak my I point to 3:57's specific allegation of "lying" & his alternative "fact".

That it is a "lie" that an expansion of foreign airports will lead to them getting more buciness because "No evidence to support this has ever been put forward" is clearly nonsense. It is self-evidently true & that the world normally works this way & you do not have to be an economist to understand it. By "no evidence" he merely means insufficient evidence to convince him & experience shows that, for most eco-fascists no evidence whatsoever will ever convince them.

His alleged "fact" - that the overwhelming majority of MPs of all parties regularly ring BAA's offices to find what today's orders are seems no more inherently credible than the claims of catastrophic peak oil causing $200 a barrel oil, a catastrophic fall in life expectancey to 42, death of all sea life & most land life, the current ice age we are also suffering from, that we are curently undergoing catastrophic warming & all the other nonsense that eco-fascists have claimed. While not wishing to deny that this alleged "fact" is as accurate as everything else coming from them perhaps the Greens could make public the telephone tapes of these improbable conversations which they must have to speak with such assurance.

It is conceivable that something some other Anonymous Lussite has said here may be a little more truthful but id doesn't seem worth finding out.

Anonymous said...

Neil Craig I note does not suggest where we look for evidence about the supposed "threat" from Frankfurt if we don't cover half of Britain in runways - he just takes it as factoid. Neil/Iain, I suggest you stop taking the recycled hash that BAA transmits via it's tame politicians for granted.

Also, what about the recession for goodness sake? The alleged demand for more and more runways is based on absurd projections of air traffic growing by more than a third in the next 10 years - yet at present, it is actually _falling_, which is why cheap airlines are busy going bankrupt.

Aviation is hugely subsidised because the big airlines and their infrastructures were mostly provided originally by the taxpayer and then flogged off cheap to the likes of BAA. Needless to say, this was another Tory "achievement".

Oh and those night time freight flights run by DLL et al? Increasingly provided by the notoriously safe Aeroflot under license using dated Russian aircraft. It is literally only a matter of time before one comes down on a town in the middle of the night. When that happens, will we hear the BAA-choir bleating on here that it's all for the best?

James Higham said...

Only a few weeks ago it was announced that BAA had to lose two of its airports. I suspect it would be difficult to imagine BAA penning that particular policy.


neil craig said...

When you say aviation is "subsidiesed" what you meam is that it isn't taxed as much as you want.

One of the most basic problems in politics, which Orwell nailef perfectly, is the use of words to mean the opposite of their true meaning. Such behaviour is endemic in the "Green" movement (who aren't actually concerned about real greenery but in promoting Luddism). Without that tactic they would be naked.

The 1/3rd increase predicted in 10 years is "absurd" only in being to low, when compared with real past experience. The claim, a few months ago, that it would not happen was based, as I said earlier, on the eco-dascist's "peak oil" scare which the current price indicates to be nonsense. Even if we do work ourselves into an unnecessary recession air travel increase was much more than 30% in the ten years after the 1929 crash.

Despite Mous having extended his claim that almost all MPs are secretly zombies programmed by BAA to include Iain & me he has, yet again, failed to produce the tapes of us all getting our orders. He either has such tapes or a remarkable confidence in telling absolutely any lie whatsoever.

The reptitiion of the line that making the other European airports bigger, better organised & quicker to get through (& involving less aircraft circling waiting for a chance while using up fuel) would not tend to attract customers there is about as credible as everything else these Luddites say.

Anonymous said...

So will you be going to Frankfurt to catch a plane to the States then Neil? Just because it's a bit busy at Heathrow. And where would you go to Frankfurt from? Ah yes, a British airport.

A moment's practical thought reveals the absurdism behind this mindless propaganda support of BAA profits.

Of course, what really matters here to the pro-camp is the profits of moving stuff by air, which are higher because subsidies are higher in that sector.

Auntie Flo' said...

Sorry, Iain, you are wrong.

"Airlines report falling profits and passenger numbers"

Daily Telegraph. Sarah Arnott. 6 August 2008

"It was another gloomy day for the global airline industry yesterday as British Airways revealed depressed passenger numbers for what should have been one of the busiest months of the year, and two European carriers posted disappointing financial results."

Stansted airport made around 24% of its staff redundant during the last recession.

Those redundancies were necessary despite massive taxpayer subsidies to aviation, including:

Exemption from fuel duty

Duty free subsidies

Even exemption from VAT when aviation buys little things like aircraft.

Exemption from the polluter pays principle - re: noise and air pollution - that all other business sectors must adhere to.

These subsidies cost UK taxpayers billions every year while the growth of inshore aviation damages our health and devastates our environment.

They also enable aviation to create a massive air tourism balance of trade deficit.

And encourage aviation to damage our - unsubsidised - domestic tourist industry, which does not create a deficit, which does not scrounge off the taxpayer for its profits and which creates a million jobs.

Auntie Flo' said...

I'm reposting part of a priro post on this because the massive size of the subsidies to aviation need to be publicised:

Air tourism's balance of payment's deficit:

£18 billion in 2005!

x 2 by 2020?

Cost of CO2 emissions (Stern Report) 2005 levels

£3.2 to £6.3 billion

x 2 by 2020?

Aviation's fuel tax subsidy from taxpayers 2005

£5.7 billion per year.

++ x 2 by 2020?

Aviation's VAT subsidy from taxpayers Pa:

£4 billion

x 2 by 2020?

Plus £billions in environmental and health costs.

And all solely to subsidise the super rich, because only the top 4% fly frequently enough to recoup the cost of their tax and VAT subsidy to aviation from their flight savings.

And there was me thinking you were against tax increases for unjustified subsidies, Iain. I was obviously wrong.