Friday, December 14, 2012

Build! Build! Build! Tory plans to demolish planning laws

Guest blog: In the first of two blogs, Phil Martin from the A556 Lobby Group explains recent plans to steamroller local opposition to boost the construction industry.

Of all the bloody cheek! At the recent gathering of EU leaders to thrash out spending over the next few years, the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that cuts would have to be made to the infrastructure budget (i.e., roads, rail and runways) in order to freeze or cut the deficit .

This is the same David Cameron who (presuming he talks to his Chancellor) is overseeing the investment of another £5 billion of public money invested in national infrastructure projects on top of the £5 billion announced in 2011 to kick start over 500 road building and other construction projects, including airports and revived PFI schemes.

It’s the same David Cameron who gave a speech on 19th November 2012 to the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) stating that:

“Consultations, impact assessments, audits, reviews, stakeholder management, securing professional buy-in, complying with EU procurement rules, assessing sector feedback: this is not how we became one of the most powerful, prosperous nations on earth. It’s not how you get things done. As someone once said, if Christopher Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be stuck in the dock. So I am determined to change this. 

Here’s how:  Cutting back on judicial reviews. Reducing government consultations. Streamlining European legislation. Stopping the gold-plating of legislation at home. And quite simply: getting our roads and railways built more quickly.”

One might have thought, perhaps naively, that consultation, judicial reviews and the like were core elements of a democratic society and not bureaucratic hindrances. It’s worth stating the subsequent section in full, because if there was any doubt of the intentions of the coalition, Cameron makes it crystal clear, not only concerning policy but of their attitude to local people who seek to challenge decisions made by central government.

“Last on my list – and it overlaps with some of the above – is getting our roads and railways built more quickly. In the 50s it took us 8 years to design and build the first 50 miles of the M1. Today it can take that long just to widen one section of a motorway. So we are speeding things up. Since we came to office we haven’t just announced a load of road and railways schemes – yes, we have actually got diggers on the ground on the A23, the M62, the M4, M5 and M6. What’s more it’s our ambition to cut the time it takes to upgrade our roads in half."

"So we are determined to dismantle some of the procedures that have been slowing us down and slowing you down. But none of this will mean much unless we have a change of culture in Whitehall too. There are understandable reasons for that. When you have lobby groups lined up to criticise every action you take and Parliamentary Select Committees ready to jump on every bump in the road then the rational choice is to be cautious – even over-cautious. But for the sake of our country’s progress we have got to cut through this. I want every Department in Whitehall to be a growth department. I’ve insisted that every Permanent Secretary has growth as a key objective. And I want every Minister and every official to understand that the dangers are not just in what you do but what you don’t do that the costs of delay are felt in businesses going bust, jobs being lost, livelihoods being destroyed.”

But Cameron’s decision to make his rant to a CBI audience was no accident. The International Business Times reported in the autumn of 2012 that the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), were lobbying the government to speed up infrastructure projects and put their money where their mouths were. An article entitled 'CBI and BCC add pressure over infrastructure investment' flagged up a new CBI report 'An Offer they Shouldn't Refuse: Attracting Investment to UK Infrastructure' which highlighting several steps the government could take to ensure there is the cash to get projects off the ground. The core recommendations included:
- government underwriting of projects to reduce risk to potential backers
- extending capital allowances to cover all infrastructure projects
- time-limited tax breaks for pension funds that invest in such projects.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), suggested the government utilize its AAA credit rating to borrow cheaply from the bond markets and spend on infrastructure projects. CBIDirector-general John Cridland was quoted as saying that "Infrastructure spending offers the UK the elusive growth boost we are all seeking. We need the political will to focus relentlessly on economic growth”.

So Cameron’s speech occurred only a couple of months after the CBI launched their campaign. In effect he was saying “yes, we heard what you say and we will give you what you want.” This was confirmed in the governments own press releases.

What was also interesting that the International Business Times article chose to veer into opinionising commenting that “Planning laws, the bane of construction firms but the beating heart of that truly British trait of nimbyism, will be relaxed under the new reforms aimed at boosting the construction sector”. Note – it does not say that the laws are being relaxed because more houses are needed, or that traffic levels are so critical that roads are essential to alleviate congestion. No, it’s about boosting the construction sector.Cameron’s sneering reference to lobby groups echoes the sarcastic mention of nimbyism. One might be tempted to think his speech was heavily based on the CBIs own pronouncements.

In actual fact Osborne’s own statements over the last two years clearly demonstrate that economic growth as opposed to actual local need is the main motivation for all this orgy of destruction. The Daily Mail noted on December 5th that:
“George Osborne hopes that spending money on new buildings and transport projects will help the stumbling economy get going.”

Price Waterhouse Coopers chief economist, Dr Esmond Birnie was reported assaying:
“The Chancellor is anxious to get capital projects moving to stimulate infrastructure investment, economic competitiveness and the construction sector - The challenge now is to find big projects.... that are ‘shovel ready’ and can stem the continued haemorrhage in the local construction industry.”

There is no question that environmental considerations would prevent this. In the autumn statement of 2011 Osborne explicity said “we will make sure that gold plating of EU rules on things like Habitats aren’t placing ridiculous costs on British businesses."

Another International Business Times article from September 2012 announced that a new task force – the Cabinet sub Committee for Growth Implementation would consider “how planning laws block or hinder infrastructure projects from going ahead.” And would try to “bring down the bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles perceived to stand in the way of growth, particularly in infrastructure investment”

The same week as Cameron delivered this the Planning Minister Nick Boles did the rounds of television studios promoting the Growth andInfrastructure Bill which the website states euphemistically titled offered ‘Measures to reduce bureaucratic barriers to growth and infrastructure’. The Bill’s specifically aims at reducing the number of different consents infrastructure developers require, but contains provisions to allow the existing fast-track planning process created for nationally significant infrastructure projects to be extended to pretty much any major business and commercial projects that are judged “important to delivering growth and prosperity and boosting the economy.”

These potentially include “manufacturing and major tourism and leisure proposals, office development such as research and development facilities, and warehousing. Developers would be allowed to request that their application for these nationally significant business projects be determined through the infrastructure planning system which ensures decisions are made within 12 months from the beginning of examination. Existing requirements to consult local communities are retained.”

Boles commented: “It is vital we secure investment in new nationally significant infrastructure and commercial development, and that quicker and better planning decisions are made, if we are to help boost the economy and create the new jobs we need."

"Planning delays help no one. They bring uncertainty for local people and local firms and can deter new investment all together. By streamlining the planning process to make it quicker and easier for these national significant projects to be decided we can ensure sustainable development gets underway without delay."

Note again – Boles mentions boosting the economy and job creation but not reasons such as traffic reduction.This is just the latest stage of a wholesale purging of planning rules and guidance since 2010 which has seen the introduction of a presumption in favour of development into guidance through the Localism Bill in 2011. Slipping under the radar in early 2012 the coalition made it law that applications for consent for development of major infrastructure projects would now be decided by the Secretary of State, following a recommendation by a planning inspector from the Major Infrastructure Planning Unit. Previously those decisions were made by the independent Infrastructure Planning Commission, which will close and be replaced by the Major Infrastructure Planning Unit. The Major Infrastructure Planning Unit will sit within the Planning Inspectorate and continue to use the framework set out by the national policy statements. The government said that the change will "return democratic accountability to major infrastructure applications".

But in reality the ideas proposed by the CBI and other business lobbies differ little from the proposals made by Osborne and Cameron on numerous occasions since coming to power. Speeches are littered with references to accessing pension fund cash or acting as guarantor for private investment in construction but what seems to be the case is that despite the pledges and rhetoric as far as business leaders are concerned not much has been delivered. Their vocal calls were more a poke in the ribs ahead of Osborne’s autumn statement to remind them of what they promised. We shall see what happens – but whatever it is, it wont be pretty – or very environmentally friendly. For a green analysis (which actually includes local Councillors using the British Chambers of Commerce arguments to support road building in the South West) see:

On 5th December 2012 the chancellor’s autumn statement confirmed plans to cut public spending in order to use the money to build new schools and transport schemes. The £5bn saved is to be spent on capital projects in an effort to ‘kick start growth’. It’s unclear whether this is an extra £5 billion to that previously pledged for similar purposes back in 2010 or an additional sum.

More funding was also promised to me made available for local transport projects including £270m for projects to remove bottlenecks and support development (my italics) and £333m for road maintenance; significantly another £60m was earmarked for Enterprise Zones to support housing and commercial development. The Government agreed to provide £10 million per annum for ‘capacity building’ within Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and each LEP will be able to apply for up to £250,000 additional funding per year to support the development and delivery of their strategic plans.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Manchester City Council approve plans for 'World Logistics Hub'

 Manchester City Council have approved the outline planning application for the 'World Logistics Hub' at Manchester Airport. The decision was made by eleven City Councillors of the Highways and Planning Committee meeting on Thursday 22nd November 2012.

At the meeting a local resident and representatives of Ringway Parish Council addressed the Committee to object to the plans. They raised concerns on a number of issues, from loss of greenspace to increased traffic and noise pollution in the area. Prior to the meeting 106 letters of objection had been written to the Planning Department.  Despite these concerns, the Councillors made the decision to approve the plans, as well as over 800 signatures on an online petition.

In a message sent after the meeting, Audrey O'Donovan, Chair of Ringway Parish Council said, "It fell on deaf ears, the application was approved and the warehouses and car parking spaces will be built on our beautiful 90 acres of countryside. Save Sunbank and Ringway Parish Council did absolutely everything we could to try and stop this and our core group worked extremely hard, digging for information, writing letters, leaflet dropping, talking to the press, talking to Manchester Radio".

The main issue raised by a member of the Committee was from Councillor John Flanagan, who expressed concern about the potential traffic impact around Sunbank Lane. In response to this point, the Committee decided to authorise the Head of Planning "to amend and add to the conditions where necessary", for example to put in place conditions on maintenance of the ecology mitigation zone, or on traffic restrictions.

No comment was made by the Committee on the increase in carbon emissions from an expanding Airport.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Show of opposition at Planning and Highways Committee meeting - Thursday 22nd November 2012

Thursday 22nd November 2012
Meet at 1.30pm, outside Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square (under the large Santa Claus), M60 2LA

Please join us at Manchester City Council’s Highways and Planning Committee meeting next Thursday, for a show of opposition against the latest expansion plans at Manchester Airport.

In this meeting the final decision will be made on the application for a ‘World Logistics Hub’, which would involve the construction of 43 warehouses and almost 1,500 car parking spaces on 90 acres of former greenbelt land.

Click here for more information on the World Logistics Hub application

We will gather at 1.30pm outside Manchester Town Hall. The meeting will begin at 2pm, in the Banqueting Room, Level 2, Town Hall. 

More information on the meeting and the application is available on the Manchester City Council website. 

You can still submit a letter of objection up to the day of the Committee. You should quote the planning application number 100263/OO/2012/S2.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Save Sunbank! Wildlife Walk

On Saturday 3rd November around 100 local residents and campaigners took part in a protest walk against the proposed World Logistics Hub at Manchester Airport. The protesters braved the cold to take a route around the 90 acre former greenbelt site, which is threatened by the plans to build 43 cargo sheds and almost 1,500 car parking spaces.

Local residents, wildlife enthusiasts and environmental campaigners spoke at various points along the walk, sharing their experiences of fighting Manchester Airport expansion and highlighting the numerous ways that the plans would affect local people and the environment.

The Wildlife Walk came the week after the Wythenshawe Area Committee‘recommended for approval’ the World Logistics Hub plans, on the 25th October.  The application will now be sent to the Planning and Highways Committee at Manchester City Council for a final decision on 22nd November 2012. A number of attendees at the Wildlife Walk, keen for their concerns to be brought to this Committee, pledged to attend this November meeting at Manchester Town Hall.

Several Councillors of the Wythenshawe Area Committee backed the Logistics Hub plans based on the Airport's promises of local job opportunities. However campaigners argue that job creation figures proposed by the Airport are inflated.

Jane Beetson from 'Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport' campaign  said “When Manchester Airport first announced plans for a second runway, they claimed 50,000 jobs would be created.  No-where near that number of jobs materialised.  Just like then, they are misleading the public now.”

She added, “Local Councillors say they will force the Airport to give jobs to local people but in practice they will have no way of enforcing this on the firms that move into the new office and warehouse spaces.  We need to create green jobs in sustainable industries not dirty aviation.” 

The Wildlife Walk was also an opportunity for wildlife experts to explain that Airport's promises of preserving wildlife are also unrealistic, and that creating a 'mitigation zone' is no substitution for leaving habitats untouched.

Along the route, campaigners encountered the threatened habitats of numerous plant and animal species. Several mature oak trees line Sunbank Lane, providing nesting opportunities for rare birds, and potential roosting spots for endangered bat species. The site is also home to 12 ponds occupied by Great Crested Newts, an endangered species found only in the North West of England. Walkers were also able to spot signs of protected animals for example badger snuffle holes and mole hills in the green space around Sunbank.

Manchester Mule coverage here.

Manchester Evening News coverage here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wythenshawe Area Committee 'recommends for approval' World Logistics Hub

Objectors to the World Logistics Hub made representations to the Wythensahawe Area Committee last night.

Residents from Ringway Parish Council, Hale Barns, Cheadle, Chorlton and other parts of Manchester raised a number of concerns to the 12 City Councillors relating to loss of green space, the inflated job creation figures in the Airport's proposals, the lack of consultation in removing the specified area out of the green belt, the threat of rising emissions from the Airport, the likelihood of increased traffic in the area and other issues.

In the end, the Committee members 'recommended the application for approval', which will now be sent to the Planning and Highways Committee at Manchester City Council for a final decision (possibly on 22nd November 2012). The Committee attached a number of conditions to this recommendation relating to the accessibility of existing footpaths, noise and lighting issues relating to the proposed buildings.

The Councillors of the Committee said they sympathised with some of the objections but said that local people in Wythenshawe needed job opportunities. Councillor Brian O'Neill (Labour) acknowledged that the Airport had made similar promises to the people of Wythenshawe in the past - promises which had not materialised. This time, Councillor O'Neill insisted the Committee would be holding the Airport to account.

Councillor Mary Di Mauro (Lib Dem) raised another of concerns relating to the loss of biodiversity at the sight and questioned whether a more appropriate brownfield site could have been found on the Roundthorn Estate to the north of the Airport.

Referring to the online petition against the plans, Councillor Eddie Newman said that many of the objectors did not live in Manchester and were, "ideologically opposed to airport expansion."

Residents and campaigners will be making representations to the Planning and Highways Committee meeting in due course, but in the mean time will continue with plans for a Wildlife Walk on Saturday 3rd November 2012.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

World Logistics Hub planning application to be discussed at Wythenshawe Area Committee - 25th October 2012

Manchester Airport's planning application for a World Logistics Hub will be discussed at the Wythenshawe Area Committee meeting this Thursday 25th October 2012. The agenda can be downloaded from Manchester Council's website:

The meeting is scheduled for 7.30pm and is open to members of the public and we encourage people to attend. It will be held at:
The Wythenshawe Forum
Forum Square
Wythenshawe, Manchester, M22 5RX

As we understand things, the decision on the planning application will not be taken by the Wythenshawe Area Committee.  However, comments from the meeting will be taken to the Planning and Highways Committee meeting on 22nd November 2012 at Manchester City Council.  This committee will decide on the planning application.

There was also this note on Page 14 of the application. "The Highways Agency are currently reviewing the submitted documentation and as such have served an Article 14 notice on the City Council which prevents the application being determined before 5th November 2012."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Save Sunbank! Wildlife Walk - Saturday 3rd November

Saturday 3rd November 2012
Meet at 2pm at Hasty Lane, near Manchester Airport,  WA15 8UT

SEMA is organising a family friendly walk in the greenfields and woodlands of Sunbank in protest against Manchester Airport’s proposed plans for a ‘World Logistics Hub’. 

These plans will lead to the eviction of local residents, the destruction of valuable greenspace and an increase in traffic congestion, noise pollution and carbon emissions from the Airport's freight sector.The walk will be an opportunity for local residents and campaigners to come together to show their opposition before the final decision is made on the application at the  Planning and Highways Committee meeting on the 22nd November 2012.

Join us to oppose these unnecessary and destructive expansion plans. We will gather at Hasty Lane, and then walk to Sunbank around the affected area. Our route will take us through the green space earmarked for destruction, with opportunities to hear from local people and see local wildlife in its threatened habitat. The walk will finish with warm drinks in the nearby Romper pub.

How to get there

Train and bus/walk

Get the train to Manchester Airport station then either bus numbers 18 & 18A towards Hale Barns / Altrincham. Get off at the top off Hasty lane.  
Or it's 20 minute walk from Manchester Airport station.


Tram and bus
take the tram to Altrincham interchange and take buses number 18 or 18A towards the Airport/Wythenshawe. Get off at the top off Hasty lane.

Supported by Ringway Parish Council and Save Sunbank campaign  Email:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Residents begin fightback against World Logistics Hub

On Wednesday 5th September Ringway Parish Council members were joined by members of the A556 Lobby Group, campaigners from SEMA and over 80 local residents to voice their opposition to the recent planning application submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) which, if successful "would see 90 acres of former greenbelt land wiped out in favour of 43 cargo warehouses and almost 1,500 car parking spaces".

For many residents in attendance, who felt that they had not been involved in the consultation process, the meeting was their first opportunity to learn about the Airport’s plans. It was also an opportunity to debunk the Airport’s claim that the expansion would create employment in the area.

Audrey O'Donovan, Chairman of Ringway Parish Council said:
 "The Airport claim new jobs will be created. However, many of these jobs will not be 'new' but simply 'displaced' as existing firms re-locate from other areas of Greater Manchester to take advantage of the cheap business rates on offer."

Members of the A556 Lobby Group explained that the recent planning application has shed light on how the Airport’s plans fit in to a broader picture of development in the area.
Matt Parkinson, who attended the meeting, said "We have long suspected that the proposed A556 bypass has more to do with facilitating Government plans for the massive expansion of Manchester Airport, than to provide an "environmental improvement" to the people living alongside the current A556.
"We expressed our concerns that the developments around Manchester Airport are being brought to the public's attention piecemeal, these will affect a much wider surrounding area ultimately engulfing significant parts of Cheshire into the planned "Airport City" and supporting infrastructure”.
The meeting was an opportunity for different groups to come together in their opposition, and there was a strong feeling that the struggles of local residents and campaigners must be united.
"We feel the time has come for all local groups fighting to save their villages, countryside and way of life to join together, to realise the bigger picture and to oppose the notion of 'growth' at any cost. We believe the vast majority of people would prefer to see targeted investment in sustainability in order to create jobs which genuinely benefit society, human well-being and our environment rather than local MP, George Osborne's obsession with growth for growths sake."

There was even a message of solidarity from across the channel, from campaigners at the ZAD, (Zone A Defendre, meaning ‘Zone to Defend’), near Nantes in France, who have been opposing a massive airport project for over 40 years:

"We want to send a message of solidarity to those standing up to airport expansion in Manchester and let you know that there are many communities worldwide involved in the same struggle. Together, we can learn from each others experiences and be part of a movement  fighting not just against useless and destructive projects but for a world where we're not ruled by profit and where communties are able to take control of their lives".

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Virgin criticised by environmental groups for introducing Heathrow to Manchester flights

As Virgin apply for a judicial review against their loss of the West Coast rail franchise, environmental groups unanimously criticised the company's green credentials last week for launching a new Manchester to London air route.

From Business Green,  21 Aug 2012

Virgin Atlantic’s plans to start commercial flights from London to Manchester have today been sharply criticised by green groups who claim the service will push up emissions.

The airline announced its first foray into domestic services this morning, just days after Virgin Trains lost out on its valuable West Coast rail franchise to First Group.

The company said it plans to offer three daily return flights between Heathrow and Manchester from March 2013, while flights from the capital to Edinburgh and Aberdeen could also be up and running by the summer.

However, green campaigners said such short flights are hugely fuel inefficient, given most fuel is burnt during the frequent take-offs and landings on short shuttle flights.

They also questioned how the service squares with Richard Branson’s stated aim to make Virgin the world’s most sustainable airline by 2020, and argued that the new service called into question the case for expansion at Heathrow.

A spokeswoman for the Green Party told BusinessGreen that replacing the almost 100,000 annual flights to destinations such as Edinburgh, Manchester, and Paris with rail journeys would not only reduce emissions but also free up capacity at Heathrow for new connections to emerging markets, removing the need for a new hub airport or expanded capacity.  “We are very disappointed Richard Branson doesn’t understand flying inter-city within the same country doesn’t do anything to help [reduce] CO2 emissions,” she said. “We should be reducing short-haul flights not encouraging people to take more.”

Jean Leston, senior transport policy officer at WWF UK, added: “Virgin’s new route to Manchester shows yet again how the airlines are creating a rod for their own backs by adding new domestic routes that clog up capacity that’s better used for new long haul routes… [and] not adding carbon needlessly to our skies.”

Meanwhile, Jane Thomas, a senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the proposed £32bn high-speed rail link to Birmingham, Manchester and the North, known as HS2, would make internal flights redundant.  “Encouraging people to use trains is environmentally sensible and it also makes good sense when you have good existing networks,” she toldBusinessGreen. “HS2 would increase connectivity further and negate any case for short haul flights.”

Her thoughts were echoed by Richard Hebditch, campaign director at the Campaign for Better Transport.  “We should be making sure that rail is the mode of choice for all journeys between Manchester and London, not contemplating more flights for such a short distance,” he said. “Whoever runs the west coast mainline, travelling by rail has to make more sense.”

Click here for the rest of the story.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Government consultation on new Aviation Policy Framework

In July 2012, the government launched its consultation on the draft Aviation Policy Framework.  This is intended to replace the 2003 Air Transport White Paper.

Its second paper, asking for evidence on whether more airport capacity, particularly hub capacity, is needed in London and the South East has been postponed until the Autumn.

AirportWatch have posted the following initial response: 

"The consultation is still a document which envisages a lot of growth in air travel.  Whether that level of growth is compatible with climate change and noise concerns is highly debatable. But the consultation document is more honest than we have seen from previous governments.  It recognises that there is a tourism deficit, due to air travel, and that the UK is already about the best connected country in the world, contrary to the aviation industry’s spin.  It also recognises that landing slots need to be sorted out, as they are a major hindrance to efficient use of airport capacity. However, the document is weak on climate."

For an initial assessment on the draft Framework in terms of climate, noise and other issues see John Stewart's comment on the AirportWatch website.  

The deadline for responses to this consultation is 31 October 2012.  Response forms are available on the Department for Transport (DfT) website.  

The following quotes are taken from the draft Aviation Policy Framework:

On aviation and the Climate Change Act.....
"3.20 The Climate Change Act (2008) commits the UK to reducing its net GHG emissions by at least 80 per cent below the 1990 baseline by 2050 (the target), and requires the Government to set five-yearly carbon budgets, establishing a path towards meeting that target.   Emissions from international aviation (and shipping) are currently not included in the Act's definition of "emissions" and therefore do not form part of the target. However, the Government is required to set out the circumstances and extent to which emissions from international aviation should be included before the end of 2012, or explain to Parliament why it has not done so."

"3.21 In April 2012, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its advice to the Government that the UK's national carbon budgets and targets should include aviation (and shipping) emissions. Given the practical complexities, the Government is carefully analysing the evidence and options presented. The Government intends to make clear its position later this year."

On possible plans to link High Speed 2 to Manchester Airport......
"2.92 HS2 Ltd has also now submitted to the Government detailed route options for a spur from the main HS2 line to serve Heathrow Airport. This would provide improved links from the Midlands and the North, and enable HS2 passengers to travel directly to Heathrow without having to change trains. HS2 Ltd is also assessing the options and case for serving Manchester airport by high speed rail."

"2.93 The Government will publish its initial preferred route and station options for Phase 2 in autumn 2012, and launch a consultation in 2013/14."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Manchester Airport unveils plans to concrete former greenbelt land with 'World Logistics Hub'

Manchester Airport has announced plans to concrete over former greenbelt land around Sunbank Lane to make way for a 'World Logistics Hub'.  The area is currently home to residential houses and greenfields and also borders onto Cotterill Clough - a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Proposals to build on former greenbelt land
The plans involve the construction of around 43 warehouses and office units of various sizes on land adjacent to the A538, as well as 1,473 carparking spaces, 134 bike parking spaces and a re-landscaped green zone.   The plans form part of the wider Airport City Enterprise Zone.  More details can be found here:

The Airport 'anticipate' that 1800 jobs will be created over a 15 year period.  However, a report on the wider Airport City proposals in Autumn 2011 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England found that many of these job creation projections actually involved displacing pre-existing jobs from elsewhere in Manchester, as firms relocate to take advantage of the cheap business rates on offer.

The land around Sunbank Lane was recently taken out of the Greenbelt in Manchester City Council's 'Core Strategy' which was approved in July 2012.  Many residents say they were not informed or consulted of these plans.  Audrey O'Donovan said,  "As a resident and chairman of Ringway Parish Council I am appalled at the lack of consultation by Manchester Airport when removing Oak Farm and surrounding area out of the green belt and changing the planning status enabling them to once again encroach on our countryside. All in the name of so called progress. What concerns me is the World Logistics Hub as they have called this latest expansion will expand to the other side of the A538 spreading their operations still further into our very small Parish of Ringway."

Plans for a World Logistics Hub to the south west of Manchester Airport

The Airport have published an 'informal' consultation document with images of the plans.   They say they intend to submit a formal planning application to Manchester City Council at some point in August 2012.  Objectors will have 21 days of formal consultation period to submit their views upon registration of the application.
A view of the area as it is now
Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport organised a 'Biodiversity Walk' around the affected site in May 2010.  Shortly after local activists blockaded the current World Freight Centre and staged an airside protest around the wheel of Monarch Airline jet against plans to expand the airport and demolish local homes. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Osborne delays launch of government aviation consultation to “summer” 2012

(Adapted from Airport Watch:)

The aviation consultation that had been intended to start sometime between the Budget and the end of March 2012 appears now to have been postponed, to an unspecified date – probably some time after May.

In his Budget speech, George Osborne said: "I also believe this country must confront the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England – we cannot cut ourselves off from the fastest growing cities in the world. The Transport Secretary will set out Government thinking later this summer.”  
This appears to have taken the DfT themselves by surprise.  It is speculated that the reason may have been disagreement between George Osborne and the Lib Dems, on the desirability of future aviation expansion.  

So it appears that the DfT’s  Aviation Framework Policy consultation will now take place some time after May this year.

It is thought that there will be two consultation documents and the consultations will run in parallel. 
The first consultation is focused on the policy framework and is likely to run for 4 months; the second consultation is a call for evidence on UK hub connectivity which will run for 4-6 months. 

Based on Osborne’s budget commitment to ensure the UK remains well connected, it will seek general views on connectivity and the role of a UK hub(s) while inviting any specific proposals on how hub connectivity can be improved (e.g. detailed submissions on Heathrow or alternative proposals such as Thames estuary – they want evidence and specific plans with locations, how it ties in to surface access network etc, not concept designs).  Any proposal must also meet the criteria set out in the general framework consultation document.

One reason for the delay over the consultation may be that ministers want to combine the issue of an airport hub,  with giving consideration to aircraft emissions policies.

DfT expect the final policy document would appear in March 2013 although it could be published earlier if Ministers wish.

In his Budget speech, George Osborne said:

“We’re the first British government to set out in a National Infrastructure Plan the projects we are going to prioritise in the coming decade."

“The roads, railways, clean energy and water, and broadband networks we need are all identified."

“I also believe this country must confront the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England – we cannot cut ourselves off from the fastest growing cities in the world."

“The Transport Secretary will set out Government thinking later this summer.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Airport City - against and for

From Manchester Climate Monthly:

Last week, accompanied by a certain amount of civic boosterism (always in short supply in Manchester), the £659 million “Airport City” project got the go-ahead. It will, in essence, be a whole wodge of offices, call centres, logistics centres and the like around t’Airport. Will it suck money and businesses from elsewhere in a beggar-thy-neighbour manner, or generate ‘new revenue streams’? That’s for the economists to discuss. We at Manchester Climate Monthly were more interested in what various “green” groups thought of it – and, crucially – what they wanted their members and supporters to do about it. And, for the sake of some new-fangled thing called “journalistic balance,” we’ve also asked the Liberal Democrats, the Airport and Manchester City Council (55% owners thereof) for statements on how a whopping big business park predicated on flying is consistent with a ‘low-carbon Manchester’. Read on!!
First, we asked various green groups “Is the proposed development of “Airport City” consistent with a low carbon Manchester?” You will be shocked, shocked to find that they thought “no.” Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport (the clue is in the name) told us “the scheme plans to attract businesses that will ‘serve the growing demand at the Airport’ – thus coupling economic growth with rising carbon emissions from flights. It is mistake to tie prosperity creation to high carbon industries like aviation.
Secondly, 80% of trips to the Airport today are made by car – so creating more activity at the Airport will lead to an increase in car emissions. The major transport addition in the plans is the controversial SEMMMS road link (South East Manchester Multi Modal Study) – which will cause a rise in road emissions.
Thirdly, the Airport City scheme plans to build on Green Belt areas – which is not consistent with a low carbon, green vision of Manchester.”
The Manchester Green Party told us “Anything which increases the role of the Airport and which encourages air travel will make it much harder for Manchester council to achieve its carbon reduction target” and pointed us to their website article posted after we contacted them.
Second up, we asked them, if they didn’t think it was consistent, then “what actions is your organisation taking/encouraging its members to take?”
SEMA said “The Airport City scheme has already been approved from on-high by the Chancellor George Osbourne. Within this scenario we need to limit the damage the scheme will cause as it goes ahead. Along with other groups, we have urged the Council that the scheme is carried forward in a way that doesn’t compete with other economic areas in the Manchester region – and that the SEMMMS road is not given planning permission. People should voice their disapproval of the SEMMMS road to the Manchester and Stockport Councils directly. “
The Green Party said “I think it’s safe to say that Manchester Green Party will never support this Zone by opening an office there, in spite of the low taxes. More seriously we will campaign against this and similar proposals in our role as a political Party within and alongside electoral politics.”
The Manchester Liberal Demcrats favour the project. Councillor Marc Ramsbottom, leader of the Opposition stated that his party “fully welcomed Airport City and are delighted that the Coalition Government have made the project possible. Airport City could create 13,000 jobs and help the regeneration of Wythenshawe; making Wythenshawe and Manchester more economically sustainable. The project is aiming to attract global businesses, and particularly those connected with the Aviation industry.”
He continued “I hope that this will encourage R&D to make aviation more environmentally friendly and Manchester Airport more sustainable. I also believe that the project is consistent with Manchester Airports objectives to cut down on Domestic flights, which I believe are unnecessary and one the major reasons the aviation industry can be so damaging.”
And here’s where their opponents will doubtless say they are wanting to have their cake and eat it: “Whilst Manchester Liberal Democrats support Manchester Airport as a key player in employment and growth in the North West, we believe it’s expansion (which Airport City is a part of) must be sustainable. We believe that there is an inconsistency between the government’s policy on CO2 emissions, and the government’s policy of airport expansion. These inconsistencies need resolving. We believe that the Council and Airport should set Carbon Reduction Targets based on 2005 levels. We believe a full cost benefit analysis should be done before any significant infrastructure development at the Airport.”
So, what do they think should be done?
* local people to benefit from the jobs created at Airport City.
* Council and developers to encourage R and D investment.
* Manchester Airport to continue to reduce the number of Domestic Flights.
* the Council to invest revenue generated from Airport City into schemes to reduce carbon and promote sustainability.
* The Council to include Airport City and Manchester Airport in the City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan so they can be part of a low carbon Manchester.
* the Council and Airport to set Carbon Reduction Targets based on 2005 levels.
* a full cost benefit analysis to be carried out.
* Airport City and Manchester Airport to be included in the City Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan
And now for the organisations who are usually quoted at the top of these sorts of opinion-scanning pieces.
Manchester City Council supplied the following;
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “Airport City, which will create an estimated 20,000 jobs in a wide variety of sectors, will be designed to the highest environmental standards possible and will be built with a series of green bridges ensuring that every part of its northern zone is within an eight minute walk from the airport’s bus and rail hub.
“Airport City will also be one of the best connected sites for public transport anywhere in the country, with a new Metrolink line currently being built to complement existing rail connections and planned and committed improvements to the road system.”
and the Airport press office gave us this;
John Atkins, Airport City Director for the Manchester Airports Group, said: “Airport City will be a central project for the Group over the next ten years and we will look to construct buildings that are low carbon in design. It’s a project that will have social cohesion and the local community of Wythenshawe at its heart. Alongside existing community initiatives, we will continue to support schemes that improve levels of skills, education and attainment while reducing unemployment locally and equipping local people to compete for new jobs on-site. The new Metrolink extension to the airport will also assist in the delivery of that objective.”
Other groups we asked
Manchester Campaign against Climate Change didn’t reply to two email requests.
Manchester Friends of the Earth were unable to provide a statement by our deadline.
Editorial: Who wants to be an Enemy of the People?
To understand what’s going on here, we need to turn to a 19th century Norwegian playwright [Ed: er is this right?] Henrik Ibsen wrote a play called “An Enemy of the People.” Its main character is a beloved town doctor who has brought people into the world, treated their illnesses, reduced their pain as they die. Everyone loves him. Then he makes a mistake: he analyses the actual quality of the water at the town’s famous spa, which earns huge revenues from visitors coming from all over Europe. Worse, he lacks the common sense and decency to keep schtum about the fact that the water is quite the opposite of healthy…
For over 100 years Manchester was about export and innovation. After the decline of the 70s and 80s, a ‘renaissance’ has taken place (for some) around inward investment, of which the Airport is perceived to be a crucial component. And woe betide anyone who says the waters aren’t healthy. But then again, also woe betide anyone who grumps about the waters without doing work on what else people are going to drink