Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Airportwatch Statement on the Budget: APD on Business Jets

AirportWatch, the national network of airport community campaigns, welcomes the Chancellor’s proposal in the Budget to tax flights taken on private business jets. HACAN Chair John Stewart, who chairs the network, said “This move is long-overdue. In the forthcoming consultation we will be urging the Chancellor to raise Air Passenger Duty by at least the rate of inflation each year. Ideally the rate of inflation plus 1%. The fact of the matter is that aviation remains under-taxed as it pays no VAT and no tax on its fuel.”

Contact John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650

High Court setback serves to help campaign take off

This is an article from This Docklands 24 on the FTF Campaign. You can read it from HERE...

A negative High Court decision would derail many campaigns, but for Fight the Flights (FTF) it has had the opposite effect.

Membership for the group, which was formed in 2008 in response to the application to increase London City Airport (LCA) flights by 50 per cent, is rising rapidly since the decision, according to campaign member Barry Griffin.

“Membership has tripled since the court case because somany people are unhappy with what’s happening,” he says. “It’s now around the 200 mark – people on the mailing list and those who keep in contact.

“We have business owners, unemployed people and members from all ethnic backgrounds.”

FTF’s legal team are working on an appeal to the January decision to allow annual flight traffic to increase to 120,000. The group, made up of 12 core members, now claims cross-borough support from Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest. But initially it struggled to get any recognition.

“At the start we were very polite and thought that as residents the councils would listen to us,” said FTF member (and chairman of his own campaignStop City Airport Masterplan) Alan Haughton.

“We were knocking on doors and having doors slammed in our face – and and at some point we had to kick the door in basically and say actually you have to listen.”

Mr Griffin, who works in marketing by day and handles FTF’s online activities during his spare time, stresses there is no anti-LCA sentiment.

“I have flown from LCA before – I can see the viability and why people would want to use it but it’s not down to saying, well, ‘let’s make ourselves bigger because we want a larger catchment area’. We’re just against the expansion.” The group questions the overall need for flight expansion in London and welcomes high-speed rail and projects such as Crossrail.

But the number of flights isn’t its sole grievance. Mr Griffin, who has livedin an apartment in West Thamesmead since 2005, a mile from the tip of the runway, says the type of planes that use the airport is equally crucial to the case.

“At first I wasn’t affected or I wasn’t as bothered because it was mainly props [propelbyler instead of jet-propelled planes].

“The key change was from props to jets. The airport had around 30 per cent jets but with an increase to around 60 per cent of jets, that is going to have a dramatic effect on your lifestyle. ”

Friends of the Earth represented FTF at the court case against Newham Council, but the group has not been ‘hijacked’ by non-local environmental organisations, says Mr Griffin.

“We are generally interested locals that are now looking at the bigger picture and are interested in the wider environmental aspects.”

He maintains FTF just wants equal media coverage for its concerns, and a two-way dialogue with the airport’s management, both of which he says hasn’t happened so far.

“The message we were getting from the press was the airport was a fantastic business, it’s a viable business, one of the biggest businesses in the area, so of course we’re going to report everything and anything that goes on there.

“But we are a campaign that also has information and detail about the airport”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FTF Launches Legal Challenge Fund Appeal

FTF to Appeal High Court Decision

In 2009 Newham Council voted to approve the 50% flight expansion at London City Airport, taking the current annual air traffic movements up to 120,000 a year. With the help of our lawyers at the Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre, we legally challenged the decision at the High Court in November 2010. We did this by pointing out that the climate change and air quality impacts of the expansion had not been considered properly.

Dissapointingly the judges did not rule in our favour and said that local authorities do not need to take account of the new policy target from the previous government of reducing aviation emissions back to the 1997 levels. The government however have not issued guidance to Local Authorities and until they do airport expansion and the associated growth in aviation emissions will go unchecked, making aviation emission targets impossible to meet and further damage our environment and community. This decision has the potential to negatively impact on every current and future campaign against expansion, and already there are indications that this decision has been used to justify expansion at another airport.

Our legal team have advised us that there are good grounds for an appeal of this decision at the Court of Appeal and we feel that due to the possible implications of this decision on all expansion plans that it is essential that we do appeal.

We Need Your Help

We are now seeking your assistance to help us continue to put social justice, the environment and the health and welfare of the communities at the heart of this planning decision. FTF residents all work, but are not able to afford to fund a legal case themselves and are campaigning in one of the most socially deprived borough in London,which severely limits funding directly from residents.

We are seeking funding for the legal costs of an appeal from organisations or individuals who have an interest in protecting our environment and of promoting social justice, and the health and safety of some of the most deprived areas in the country. We are particularly looking to other campaigners/campaign groups and residents from other airport areas who believe they are at risk from expansion plans and the impact of the FTF High Court Decision. We would appeal to those groups/NGOs and individuals to make a donation to our appeal fund due to the wider implications of the decision on their campaigns and work.

We are more than happy to meet to discuss our campaign, and the legal case in further detail at request. If individuals wish to donate an amount, small or large please contact us to find out how you can donate or use the PayPal service linked on the right hand side of the page at:

London City Airport expansion has been an expansion by stealth and one which many residents are still only finding out about, despite it now being regarded as a major airport. FTF has played a key role in raising awareness and continues to lobby on the issues and impact of expansion. We have built ourselves a credible reputation: being asked to speak at various events such as Progressive London, UCL and the Houses of Parliament. We continue to believe that London City Airport is one of the most harmful expansions in the country, due to it's location in the most densely populated area of the country.

FTF wants the communities to be treated fairly, and they have not. We cannot meet climate change targets by allowing unfettered flight expansion, nor can we improve, or even maintain the quality of life or health of the residents in these areas all the time the London Borough of Newham is listening to business rather than environmental and health facts and not acknowledging the impacts on neighbouring boroughs.

Please help by giving generously to the Legal Appeal Fund.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Aviation wants YOU to PAY and it'll scream and scream and scream until you do

Today we see a fightback from the aviationisatas to the campaign against those dirty tax dodging firms who simply don't want to pay their dues in the UK. Aviation are crying about how hard life is in their business, this is something they excel at. Despite all the freeloading they already do at the expense of tax paying residents in the UK they are upset: oil has gone up to over $100 a barrel and rather than pay VAT themselves they sat back and saw Air Passenger Duty be created so the government could collect some type of tax from that specially treated sector, aviation. You can read all about it here, including comment and feedback.

Lets just consider just a few of the perks and negative effects that aviation has over other businesses in terms of finance:

1. It is rated as zero VAT - this means it pays no VAT on fuel, servicing or parts. Triples all round on that one eh?

2. It's has a privileged position in terms of reducing emissions, don't ask us how it's achieved it, we'll leave you to imagine: whilst we all take on the cost and responsibility of reducing emissions, aviation responds that 'they can't afford to reduce theirs'.

Can you really afford that extra VAT on those essential items in your shopping trolley each week? Well if you can't why not just say to your supermarket that you can't afford the VAT as it's too expensive and deduct if off the bill. Even better, why not try deducting it off your utility bills? Yes, the luxury of heating a home will become considerably cheaper if residents were given the same perks and 'special treatment' that the aviationistas receive.

Fuel poverty is not something the aviation industry has ever had to deal with, however it is most certainly something a lot of people have to deal with under the London City Airport flight paths. Oh yes, London City Airport are just one of the airports that are asking for more special treatment on taxes, the same airport that gets London Taxpayers to pay their £5.5m annual security costs for the MET and received £1,256,629.00 of taxpayer money from the London Development Agency between 2004-20011. Yes, London City Airport is insatiable for your money!!

3. In 2008 aviation created a £17.6 billion tourism deficit - it took this money out of this country and dumped it somewhere else. So at a time when we keep hearing business say that they need consumer confidence to spend more money in the UK the aviation industry want more state benefits/special treatment to help them fly more people, and their money out? We know who we'd like to fly out on a one way ticket, and it's not the tourists.

4. Then we come to that little issue of where and how aviation pays it's taxes. London City Airport - in various names just happens to be registered in the Channel Islands. We can't think why that would be, however it was suggested by a local resident that this could be due to them not wanting to pay UK taxes. What, LCY not want to pay their way - surely not!! City Jet is another - ask them how many of their staff are registered as employees and paid in the UK. So despite their staff being counted in the employment statistics at LCY it appears none are actually registered in this country as employees. They instead appear to be paid in Euros. So no tax for the UK there then either. We could continue, but we simply don't have the time to list all the misdemeanors.

LCY is situated in the third most socially deprived borough in the country, after over 26 years the airport has had not had any tangible impact on helping improve the fortunes of the very people and communities that are subject to excessive air and noise pollution as a result of it's activities.