Examination of Witnesses (Questions 93-99)|
Wednesday 4 June 2003
Q93 Chairman: Welcome to our session
this afternoon and thank you again for the memoranda which you
kindly sent to us. Is there anything you would like to add to
that before we begin to take evidence from you?
Mr Johnson: Thank you, Chairman.
I think we are quite happy to go straight into the questions,
but before we do if I could just very briefly introduce my colleagues.
On my left is Jeff Gazzard, who is project manager for the Aviation
Environment Federation and has looked after most of our work in
relation to the current Government consultation and this current
Treasury exercise. On my right is Brendon Sewill, who is chairman
of the local Gatwick group and is also our economic advisor. Then
on my very far right is Nic Ferriday, who does not represent AEF
here but represents Friends of the Earth.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.
Q94 Mr Francois: Thank you, Chairman.
We in the Committee have done some analysis of the forecast increase
in aviation emissions against the 2050 target of reducing CO2
by 60%. If you take into account radiative forcing then those
results look pretty worrying indeed. Have you looked at the issue
in these terms yourselves, and if you have what conclusions have
you come to?
Mr Gazzard: For the purposes of
clarity in our submission we just looked at CO2 because, as you
have heard, there is a lot of uncertainties. But if you add, as
Mr Ainsworth said, the 2.7 multiplier, which is the middle of
the range, then you will get that horrendous figure that you said,
which is almost the total climatic impacts of those emissions.
So your figures are right given, as we all have to say, there
is this degree of scientific uncertainty.
Q95 Mr Francois: Okay. Assuming the
figures are broadly accurate and accepting the caveats that you
are acknowledging, in light of that do you agree that the greater
priority needs to be given to addressing the global warming effects
Mr Gazzard: In strategic terms,
yes, and that is why we are so keen to see what is fundamentally
our agenda, in an ownership sense not a self-aggrandising sense,
in the DfT's document, in the Treasury's little consultation exercise
and both this Committee's and the Commission of Integrated Transport's
review of the same subject. It is the vital consuming strategic
Q96 Mr Francois: I think you were
all present when we were taking evidence just a few minutes earlier
from Greener by Design and they as well as the Treasury are arguing
that technology can play quite a significant role in reducing
the environmental impact. How much of a contribution do you think
the technology can make?
Mr Johnson: I think we would certainly
appreciate that technology has a role to play. Quite a lot of
commentators have addressed this issue and have made forecasts
about precisely what is realistic in terms of the technology contribution
and I think the best estimates in terms of efficiency at the moment
are that you would probably get about 1% improvement per annum.
If you were to incentivise that through economic environmental
charges maybe you could get that up to 2% per annum. That is a
significant improvement. But I think if you then set it in the
context that the Department's forecast envisaged a 4 to 5% increase
in traffic per annum you can see that they are very different
and diverging trends, even from year one and that for every year
you project into the future that represents a growing cumulative
impact on the environment.
Q97 Mr Francois: So are you saying
in essence that even if you can get improvements at the margin
year on year by using technology that in fact would be more than
outweighed by the likely increase in demand?
Mr Johnson: Precisely that, yes.
Q98 Mr Francois: Therefore, you have
got to do other things as well as being smart with technology?
Mr Johnson: Absolutely. We have
not identified one single measure that can achieve the environmental
limits that we would be looking for. We certainly see looking
at environmental costs as one of the ways of getting there. We
see technology as providing another component in that dimension.
But there is still a shortfall that we see can only be addressed
through regulation, through looking at modal substitution and
indeed looking at the whole taxation regime facing aviation because
that is something that we think fuels those growth rates.
Q99 Mr Francois: Okay. A question
about local environmental impact. The revised BAA estimates for
air pollution at Heathrow have attracted a lot of publicity recently,
and I declare a personal interest as a south Essex MP who is quite
opposed to development at Cliffe, so I ought to put that on the
record. They now seem to be suggesting that the numbers likely
to be affected by NOx pollution are far fewer than previously
thought. What is your view on that?
Mr Ferriday: Yes, I must declare
an interest. I actually live fairly near Heathrow and I have to
say objectively that I am very dubious about their estimates.
It does seem rather peculiar that whenever there is a study which
produces something difficult like 35,000 people exposed to levels
that would exceed the EU limits a new study comes along and greatly
reduces that, and they have had to make a series of quite optimistic
assumptions. I will not go into detail but basically they have
had to assume that planes do not take off on full thrust, which
you have just heard about, and one of the methods of doing that
was to ask BA pilots. Yes! They have also assumed more efficient
ground operations in terms of less emissions. They have assumed
engines far cleaner than current standards. They have redesigned
the dispersion model, the way that the emissions are dispersed
around. They assume they are dispersed more widely so the air
pollution at any one point is less. Then finally, they have remodelled
the background emissions or the emissions from road traffic and
such like. So they have had to make five sets of optimistic assumptions
to bring the number of people exposed down to just a few thousand
and it is quite interesting that with that number of people exposed
they could actually afford to move the people out and still just
about pay for the new runway. So I think our feeling is we are
a bit suspicious about this and really that air quality modelling
ought to be looked at by somebody fully independent, not somebody
employed by BAA obviously for the process of making it look better.
Mr Francois: I was tempted to ask you
whether or not this study was a sort of campaigning ploy in favour
of the third runway but I suspect you have probably just answered