Thursday, March 13, 2014

Article on The Ecologist website

Manchester Airport - the concrete shadow spreads 

22nd February 2014

The new Manchester Airport Enterprise Zone is causing the piecemeal environmental destruction of Green Belt countryside - all sacrificed to an archaic vision of fossil-powered economic growth.

Earthworks under way and trees felled at the 'World Logistics Hub' site. Photo: Jonathan Gatward
A vast swathe of open countryside is being lost to construction projects to support the growth of air traffic at Manchester Airport. The development of an Enterprise Zone, link road and 9,000-space car park is proceeding apace in the face of resistance from local communities. And the Government is backing it all to the hilt - even though the planned increases in air and road travel make a mockery of its greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments. If the developers get their way - which barring a massive upsurge in resistance they will - far more will go the same way. READ MORE


Sunday, October 13, 2013

SEMA comment on Chinese investment in Airport City announcement

P-AIRPORT LINK_ITV2000_Vimeo from Granada Reports on Vimeo.

Responding to today's announcement that a Chinese construction firm will be involved in the Airport City scheme, Robbie Gillett from Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport commented:

"Today's announcement is about pouring money into businesses that are reliant on aviation expanding from Manchester Airport, which depends on burning more and more fossil fuels pushing us closer towards a dangerous climate scenario.  We should look beyond today's headline figures to ask: What sort of economy do we want to build?  One that relies on a carbon-intensive business model where we fly goods and services back and forth across the globe?  Or one where we create new jobs in a green industries, in sustainable transport and renewable energy to power a re-localised economy?


Below's text from the Manchester Evening News - 13th October 2013

A Chinese construction company was today confirmed as part of the group that will develop an £800m business park next to Manchester Airport.

The Beijing Construction Engineering Group is involved in the joint-venture that will bring the Airport City scheme to reality over the next 12 years.

It is teaming-up with Manchester Airports Group, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and UK construction firm Carillion to invest in the project, which aims to create up to 16,000 jobs.

Over the coming years, they will build a series of office blocks, logistics hubs, hotels and warehouses that will be filled by global companies lured to the region.

Property develop Argent, which is behind the One St Peter's Square scheme in Manchester city centre and led the revamp of London's Kings Cross station, has been appointed development manager.

The deal was announced by chancellor George Osborne during a special visit to Beijing today.  It also marks the Far East launch of the Manchester-China Forum, which aims to boost trade links between the two locations.  And it is hoped securing Chinese investment into the region will go a long way towards encouraging airlines to launch a direct service between Manchester and the Far East.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: “We are delighted to confirm organisations of global standing as our joint venture partners.

“The inclusion of BCEG is significant because as a Group, we have been keen to forge greater links with the Far East and this gives us an opportunity to strengthen vital business links with China.

“With GMPF on board, Greater Manchester is investing in the future of the north west and Carillion bring sector-leading experience in project finance, delivery and sustainability, both in the UK and internationally.

“In Argent, we have the one of the most renowned developers in its field and by working together as a partnership, we are well positioned to deliver the UK’s first Airport City.”

The joint-venture sees MAG take a 50 per cent stake, BCEG a 20 per cent stake, Carillion a 20 per cent stake and the GMPF a 10 per cent stake.

The J-V partners will then look to build offices, warehouses, hotels and manufacturing plants for specific tenants and then sell those sites on for profit once they are up-and-running.

Airport City sits at the hear of Greater Manchester's Enterprise Zone, which means companies choosing to locate there can benefit from business rate reductions and other perks.

New plans to build 9000 carpark space on former greenbelt land

From the Manchester Evening News - 17th Sep 2013

Councillors considering a planning application to build a 9,000-space car park at Manchester airport will visit the site next month.

The visit has been welcomed by Wythenshawe residents objecting to the scheme, which has gone before a full council planning meeting.

The plan, submitted by Manchester Airports Group, is for a long-stay car park near the Moss Nook area and accessed from Styal Road and Shadowmoss Road.

It is in part is to replace the 3,000 spaces to be lost to Airport City, a commercial hub.  The land was classed as green belt until a government rule change in July.

Residents are objecting on the grounds of impact, noise pollution, environmental protection and loss of green space, safety issues of so many cars with petrol near an airport, increased traffic and the size of the car park.

Councillors will visit the site on 24th October 2013, ahead of their next planning meeting.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pigs can fly, hundreds of them

Back in November 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Business Secretary Vince Cable, led the biggest UK trade delegation to China in 200 years. The government aimed to double UK trade with China over five years, and to narrow the gaping trade gap. This is indeed important for the UK economy, struggling to compete with China’s high value, hi-tech products. In 2009, the disparity between the value of goods the UK exports to China and the value of its imports was £19 billion.

Specific major trade deals negotiated by Cameron and Cable included a £1.9 billion contract for Rolls-Royce to supply jet engines to China Eastern Airlines, and a £45 million deal to export British breeding boars. JSR Genetics, an international pig genetics company, based in Driffield, East Yorkshire, was one of the companies to benefit from the trade deal. On 5th April 2011, JSR Genetics announced that over 800 breeding pigs, sent on a chartered Boeing 747 flight from Manchester, had landed in Guangzhou. The pigs were just three breeds - JSR Genepackers, GGP Gilts and JSR Geneconverter GGP Boars. JSR Genetics is part of JSR Farms, based in South Yorkshire. One of the photos scrolling on the website is of a plane being either loaded or unloaded with pallets.

Flying livestock around is environmentally disastrous, adding to the greenhouse gas emissions from passenger flights. But it is understandable that air is the usual mode for long distance transportation of livestock. A sea journey would take about a month. So herds of pigs are loaded onto jumbo jets. A flight from Winnipeg to Chengdu, in Chiana’s Sichuan province in July 2012, carried 850breeding pigs. The flight delivered a ‘nucleus herd’ for the buyers, Giastar, which is aiming to have 5 million pigs in production. And even higher numbers of pigs are loaded onto jumbo jet flights to Russia. AirBridge Cargo flew 1,150 ‘Large White’ pigs from Winnipeg to Moscow in March 2010, and crammed 1,275 breeding pigs onto a Boeing 747 flight from Montreal to Vladivostock in 2011.

Planes loaded with herds of livestock are just one, particularly carbon intensive, segment of lengthy food supply chains criss-crossing the globe, with multiple transportation legs between production, processing and consumption. But, even if within the industrialised, globalised food system, there is an alternative. Breeders can send small vials of semen, germplasm or embryos instead, by air. In the US, USDA is advocating this as a replacement for air freight of livestock.

By July 2012, 3,000 breeding pigs had been flown from the UK to China in the space of a year. Once the herds in China are established UK farmers will send bottles of semen to keep production going, but still plan to send a new batch of sows every two years. Apparently up to 900 pigs are packed onto jumbo jets. They get lie-down beds and water all the way. It sounds better than humans flying economy class. All the pigs arrived safely. That is good to hear. Corporate Watch reported that JSR Farms were prosecuted for falsifying information claiming that live export pigs were properly rested on an overland journey from Wiltshire to Hamburg. The pigs had been denied the mandatory 24 hour resting period.

China is massively increasing pork production, in industrial feedlots. By 2010 China produced 50 million tonnes of pork, half of the world total, from a herd of 660 million. Almost all the pork was consumed domestically. But the country’s self sufficiency in pork is superficial. Animal feed imports must be considered. In addition to flying in Boeing 747s full of breeding stock, China’s domestic pig production boom depends on imported animal feed, largely soybeans from the US and Brazil. Imports to China accounted for over half of the global soy market in 2009, and 2010.

By Rose Bridger

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Peter Johnson leaves Hasty Lane

Having fought to save his family home for more than five years, Peter Johnson has finally been forced to leave Hasty Lane.  Manchester Airport plans to demolish two properties at the site near Hale Barns to build more freight sheds - after receiving planning permission in 2009.  As the Manchester Evening News reported however, Pete left on his own terms, refusing to give back the keys to the Airport, who own both properties, until he had completed the large task of moving all his contents out.  Peter vacated the premises in May 2013.

He said, "Without all the support of family, friends, groups like SEMA and all the other interested parties, I couldn't have hoped to resist what I still see as a criminal act, for as long as I did.  People will have to judge those responsible when we have no green areas left, and our lives are dictated by politicians and business for their narrow and selfish interests only. We allow that to continue at our peril."

Meanwhile, the Airport has begun felling trees at Sunbank Lane to make way for the World Logistics Hub.  Manchester Airports Group also made their submission to the Davies Commission into national aviation capacity.  More updates coming soon.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Manchester Airports Group buys Stansted

 Adapted from Manchester Evening News

Adam Jupp

1) If Manchester Airports Group is owned by the 10 Greater Manchester councils, how can it afford to spend so much on another airport at a time when there are huge cuts to public services?
The councils have not had to pay anything towards the deal, which is set to be finalised at the end of February. The cash has been raised through a combination of MAG selling a 35.5 per cent stake in itself to an Australian company called Industry Funds Management and agreeing a new debt package with its banks. The deal will see Manchester council reduce its stake in MAG from 55 per cent to 35.5 per cent. The other nine town halls, which currently have a five per cent stake each, will share equally the remaining 29 per cent.

2) Will Manchester Airport itself benefit?
As a result of this deal, MAG will control nearly 19 per cent of the UK aviation market, owning Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth. That is likely to strengthen its bargaining power when negotiating with airlines. As a result, the deal could help airport bosses in their quest to bring new routes to Manchester.

3) Why was Stansted so attractive to MAG?
Stansted has seen its passenger numbers fall by around a quarter over the past five years and that is why MAG thinks it has huge growth potential. It believes it can improve the airport's retail areas, increasing the amount of money brought in by its shops, restaurants and bars. After investing heavily in Manchester's terminals, retail revenues have risen steadily year-on-year – they grew from £69.4m in 2011 to £74.6m in 2012. MAG will also be looking to make the most of its airline relationships to bring passengers numbers back to what they were five years ago. Ryanair currently accounts 70 per cent of all flights out of Stansted but the airport is only at 47 per cent capacity. MAG will be looking to encourage other carriers like, Flybe and easyJet, many of which have a strong presence at Manchester, to launch new routes from the Essex gateway.

4) Could it lead to greater profits, which could then be distributed to the 10 Greater Manchester town halls?
The councils have reduced their stakes in MAG but have agreed to the deal in the hope it will boost the dividend they receive each year. The dividend is based on MAG's annual earnings and in 2012, £20m was paid out, of which £11m went to Manchester and £1m each to the other nine. Buying Stansted will automatically add around £80m to MAG's profits, which the group will hope to increase through the measures mentioned above.

5) Will any people currently employed at Manchester Airport be transferred to Essex?
It is too early to say but it is unlikely large numbers of workers will be asked to transfer to Stansted. MAG has said it has “a detailed integration plan in place to ensure a seamless transition of ownership and operations at Stansted."

6) As MAG is owned by the people, why were the people not consulted?
The proposals were first put the the Association of Greater Manchester Councils, then secured approval from each town hall individually, where they were voted on by publicly-elected councillors.

7) And finally, with all the cutbacks taking place, which we hear about on a daily basis, why didn't our town hall leaders consider selling their stake in MAG?  
Selling their shareholdings in MAG would have netted a one-off windfall for the councils. However, it is hoped by not only retaining their stakes, but backing the expansion of the group, the amount they pocket year-on-year through their dividends will grow.

8) Is £1.5bn value for money?
When weighing up whether a deal represents value-for-money, analysts tend to look at the purchase price as a multiple of a company's underlying profits. The £1.5bn price tag was 15.6 times Stansted's 2012 earnings. When looking at other airport deals, Newcastle sold a 49 per cent stake in itself for a reported £150m, which was 16.1 times its profits, while Edinburgh Airport was sold for £807m – 16.7 times its earnings. On that basis, the Stansted deal has been viewed as a good one from MAG's perspective by some industry commentators.

9) What are the risks associated with a purchase of this magnitude, particularly during the current recession?
There is, of course, a risk that MAG's plans for Stansted won't come off.  However, it has a proven track record of not only managing an airport of a similar scale - Manchester - but improving its performance, even during a  recession. In the last six months alone, Ryanair and easyJet have added routes from Manchester, while United Airlines started daily flights to Washington and American Airlines started using bigger aircraft for its New York and Chicago services. Earlier this month, it revealed revenues, profits and passenger numbers in the six months to the end of September were all up on last year.