Freesteel Blog » Towards a sustainable future

Towards a sustainable future

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 at 8:15 pm Written by:

… for Carlisle airport!


This is so in-your-face even Myron Ebell would choke on his coffee.

But don’t worry, according to the brochure (of which this is the front page) on the CumbriaVision website, their concern for the environment means the construction work won’t disturb the woodlands. And anyway:

The type of aircraft it is hoped to attract to Carlisle Airport – the most environmentally friendly and efficient in its class, with fuel consumption per passenger up to 15% lower than an average family car, over a typical 230 mile sector.

According to the Economic Impact Appraisal concocted by ekos consultants and Avia Solutions:

The successful introduction of passenger flights will see a reduction in fuel consumption of Cumbrians flying from Carlisle as they will no longer be driving to Manchester, Glasgow or Newcastle airports, or even London. The planes most likely to be used at the Airport will be the latest generation of quiet, ultra-fuel efficient turboprops. These modern aircraft cut fuel use by as much as 65% per ‘passenger mile’ when compared with jets. Government forecasts suggests that road traffic will double in the period to 2050, resulting in more congestion on overloaded motorways. This can only be eased by use of other forms of transport. An improved and functional Carlisle Airport could actually result in reduced congestion and carbon emissions overall.

The document cites other air industry documents and corporate consultants:

The Northern Way‘s Growth Strategy‘s Connectivity Technical Paper highlights (but does not reference) a study by York Aviation undertaken for the Airports Council International which shows that airports constitute an important part of this delicious breakfast.

I’m sorry, that should be: “transport infrastructure for a wide range of economic reasons.”

For example…

Companies who wish to locate on, or near airports, include direct suppliers of services to airport users, high value industries (such as electronic component distributors) who are part of “just in time” logistics networks heavily reliant on air freight services, and knowledge service industries (such as ICT companies) whose staff make frequent journeys by air to customers and suppliers.

What does the “C” stand for in “ICT”? Communication! Which means you don’t need to fly there!

This is just general purpose made-up bollocks not based on surveys of any particular manufacturing companies or how they got to where they are. For example, the main centre of ICT businesses in the UK is Cambridge, and it’s nowt to do with air travel. There’s a lot wrong with Cambridge as a location, so this tells you emphatically what the vital ingredient actually is. Some programmers I know relocated to Cumbria to get away from London and the Southeast. Unfortunately, this doesn’t fit with the sponsors’ interests, so that sort of people can get lost from their hypothetical notions.

But there’s more:

climate change and energy – Stobart Air through Cumbria Vision commissioned research into relative carbon emissions of various forms of transport between Carlisle and London, including travel by car, by train and even driving across country to Newcastle Airport, with flying directly from Carlisle Airport. In particular, this study will cover journeys from Carlisle itself as well as from West Cumbria where a key output will be to compare costs and travel times. (It showed that on emissions flying from Carlisle was the second best option behind travel by train);

That’s all very interesting, except the target is not merely for slightly less combusted fossil carbon added to the atmosphere per year, but 90% less combusted fossil carbon.

Although the document authors don’t mention this minor detail, they know it because two paragraphs later, they quote:

As highlighted in the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change, 2006 climate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever had to contend with as it interacts with other market imperfections.

To me, it’s also a great sociological failure that crappy consultants paid for with aviation dollars can get a “report” like this posted up on a government sponsored website, instead of getting sacked.

You don’t think the quality matters? This is 2009. This document cites the utterly bogus Future of Air Transport, 2003 White Paper where all airports were encouraged to expand three-fold in thirty years. It’s what the industry wanted to hear, so they keep using it all the time. I can categorically assert that any “report” which cites that White Paper as authoratitive is prima facie bogus. Which this ekos report is.

By the way, it’s got a crude 75 minute mapumental-type image on page 57. Mapumentalists ought to collect it for the archive, because next year — thanks to them — consultants will never need to produce such a shoddy image again.

There’s a lot of discussion on how the airport could make money (eg, while it would easy to get slots to fly to Luton, businessmen won’t want to go there).

It’s not interesting, because on page 72 we finally we get to the threats:

All consultees offered the view that the failure to develop Carlisle Airport as currently proposed would result in its eventual closure and the Stobart Group relocating outwith Cumbria. This would send out highly negative messages:

  • Carlisle is not open for business;
  • Carlisle remoteness and inaccessibility would remain; and
  • Carlisle does not value its major home grown businesses.

Consultees agreed that Carlisle’s image would be severely dented should the airport close —

It is one thing not to have an airport to develop, it is something of a much larger scale to have an airport and fail to develop it such that it closes.

This could deter inward investment, visitors and other developers moving in to the area.

Anecdotal views were offered that the lack of a local university had previously deterred inward investment opportunities for the City and Cumbria, and the fear is that the closure of the airport would similarly dampen inward investment interest.

The relocation of the Stobart Group outwith Cumbria would dent the city and county’s reputation and prestige, through being unable to retain a company with an iconic brand and a long history of attachment to Carlisle. The Stobart Group is a key driver within the local economy, and has a local supply chain worth some £50m.

So there you have it.

Do you want Carlisle to become a one horse town like Liverpool would become if it gave up its airport?

I mean, that is not an option, is it?

The report rambles onwards on the themes of Strategic Added Value, Socio-economic Impacts, Gross Value Added, Strategic Influence Leverage, and includes a mean comment about Blackpool Airport being used only to fly people out of the city on holiday. It concludes with 14 pages of the Socio-economic context.

My favourite piece of piffle is the paragraph on page 76:

[The airport] will be a key strategic resource for the nuclear industry in Cumbria, which will bring major economic benefits. This does not only relate to the current decommissioning plans (and the location of a number European Head Offices of major USA companies) where businesses’ senior executives require airport access, but the nuclear power replacement building programme, where an airport will be important in positioning Cumbria to lead on this and reap significant economic gain.

What a load of bollocks! The one and only strategic resource for the nuclear industry in Cumbria is its 50-year-old 200 hectare nuclear waste dump on the coast, deliberately located as far away from civilization as possible. I’m sure the businessmen running the place, if they are actually on the site, are quite capable of chartering their own helicopters to get them the hell out when there is a risk of a melt-down. What other reasons could do they need to be in a hurry? Experience shows that during a property boom, it’s easy to get money for buildings sight unseen.

We’re absolutely doomed, I tell you. This is 2009. The Copenhagen conference is in 54 days. We don’t have time to waste on bullshit like this. I’d seriously trade this stuff for those nuclear industry studies from the 1970s about how nutritious and healthy Polonium was on your breakfast.

Those were the days.

I’m scared.

1 Comment

  • 1. James Cranch replies at 13th October 2009, 10:35 pm :

    I have been proud to live in the largest city in Europe without an airport: namely (at least at various times) the city of Sheffield.

    Despite being remote, inaccessible and “not open for business”, there was something charming about it.

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