Beautiful Venice under threat from two new runways

VENICE: PLANS TO DOUBLE THE SIZE OF MARCO POLO AIRPORT

 Big business interests put before local people and the environment

Cesare Rossi writes:

The Italian government headed by Matteo Renzi is about to approve the National Airports Plan prepared by the airport management companies and three economic research and consultancy organisations.

The Plan includes the master plan of Venice airport that proposes third and fourth runways, hotels, restaurants, shops, giant parking areas for planes and cars, highway and metro access and lots more.  The new airport should be ready in 2030 but preparatory work has already begun

The airport management company, which also manages the airports of Treviso and Verona, has a target of 15 million passengers per year by 2030 (currently 9 million), involving 160,000 aircraft movements/year (currently 84,000).The master plan is backed by lobby groups to whom it will bring great profits (airport and affiliated companies that will manage the new parking, restaurants, hotels …).

It will be catastrophic for the environment:  30 hectares of land will be sealed with cement and asphalt, 2 km from the Park of the Northern Lagoon of Venice which includes the islands of Torcello, Burano, San Francesco del Deserto, Sant’Erasmo and the shores of Cavallino/Treporti.  Properties will be expropriated and 20,000 people living in the area of the planned runways will be exposed to airport emissions and noise.  These people will see 80-100 planes fly over their heads every day at heights of only 200-300 m.

Unfortunately these people have been kept in the dark about airport plans.  The airport company has always played down the master plan, calling it a hypothetical project, unlikely to be built.  Local government seems to have preferred to be deceived and has not opposed the idea of unlimited airport growth.  Some time ago, some green organisations condemned the project and its consequences, but no action followed.

A small group of people living near the airport, who already live with unbearable levels of noise and pollution, are trying to organise meetings to inform and raise awareness in their fellow citizens, future airport victims, in order to mobilise against actuation of the master plan.

Our opponents are powerful and sustained by local speculators, but we are determined to do what we can, hopefully with help and advice from campaigners in other countries.

Cesare Rossi

Citizens of Tessera, Ca’Noghera and Campalto against Acoustic, Atmospheric and Environmental Pollution from Air Traffic

Latest news from Europe and beyond: 14th September

Exchange – latest edition

The latest edition of Exchange is out.  It contains all the latest news fro campaigns across Europe, including a famous victory by campaigners in Geneva and the battle against plans for big expansion at Venice.  You can read it here:

Exchange 15

Night trains: disappearing across Europe

Many European sleeper train services are being withdrawn.  They are becoming more expensive to run but are also losing out to cheap flights. http://ow.ly/BsCJ7 

Fraport sponsors week of silence!

There is a huge irony: Frankfurt Airport, the scene of huge protests against noisy flight paths,  is one of the backers of a week of silence promoting quiet places in the city http://www.wochederstille.de 

 

 

 

 

Victory in Geneva…but the fight goes on

Campaigners in Geneva have scored a major victory against the airport’s expansion plans.  It is the first time that they have won.  And it has made them confident that they can also defeat future expansion plans.    François Périllon reports……..

 Look at the map : Geneva Airport is only 150 km from Lyon Airport.  If there were no international institutions in Geneva and the surrounding area, there would be no reason to have an international airport between Zurich, Basel and Lyon.

EasyJet is the main user of the airport, accounting for 44% of the traffic.  Most of the passengers using it are people going for week-end to London, Barcelona or Rome.  It does not help the local economy that so many people leave Geneva each weekend; it simply imposes a heavy environmental cost on the city and its surrounding areas.

It is this weekend traffic that has been driving the plans to expand the airport.  Its director Robert Deillon  wants to increase the number of passengers from 14 million to 24 million within 10 years.

Unexpected opposition on new terminal

As a first step, the airport wanted to rebuild the old-fashioned terminal and to increase the number of gates at the airport.  A simple project, with simple study (50 pages) and a simple conclusion :  traffic will grow, the airport said, but the noise, air pollution and climate pollution won’t. Please believe !

However, the plan faced strong opposition from residents (ARAG), environmental associations (WWF,  the key transport-association ATE and  the climate organisation Noé21) and even local government associations.  They formed a coalition and stopped the project.  

After long and hard negotiations, the Airport modified the initial project.  The project will be allowed, but with a strong, legal conditions.  The key condition is that the expansion will be allowed as long as it doesn’t increase the number of planes that are on the airport at any one time.

Opponents did not only stop the project but also won the communication battle : the press highlighted the lack of transparency around airport-related projects, the growing uncertainty of the economic-feasibility of the project and even stressed the problem of sustainability (noise, climate) of air-traffic growth.

Moreover, the victory sent out a clear meassage to all the authorities : local environmentalists, residents and local governments can no longer be ignored.

Concern about new development, operative hours extension and growth of traffic

But the war is not over. Residents and environmentalists are concerned that plans may emerge for a new big terminal north, huge investment for renovation of terminal south…. and a second runway.

A Masterplan is being prepared by the federal and local authorities and the associations suspect all this simply to increase the capacity of the airport. But the opposition is ready for another big fight.

Residents are also deeply concerned that the operating hours of the airport may be extended.  At present, operation hours run from 00.06h to 22.00h.  The local residents’ association, ARAG,  is suspicious the airport wants 24 hour operations.

Traffic management will be the key

CUT CUT CUT

Air traffic is one of the heaviest contributor to climate change. The lastest IPCC report stressed that the climate costs of aviation are 3 times as biggest than previously reported because cirrus and contrails play a huge role ; CO2 is only 1/3 of the total climate impact.

Rail alternatives

And alternatives do exist !

More than half of the air-traffic from Geneva could potentially be diverted to trains: Paris is within 3 hours in train (1 million people a year travel between Paris and Geneva by plane) . London, northern France and even northern Benelux, Spain, Roma, southern Germany are within half-a-day travelling time by train. Only 30% of Geneva Airport’s traffic is related to intercontinental of remote destinations. And these destinations are growing far more slowly than the nearby destinations.

We know how to get this shift from air to rail: ending the subsidies to aviation; ensuring aviation pays its true environmental costs; good train timetables; investment in rail-infrastructure instead of airport-infrastructure; and good communication.

Time for traffic management must come !

 François Périllon (coordinator, climate-association Noé 21)

 

 

Latest news from Europe and beyond: 6th September

BERLIN

Berlin’s popular mayor Klaus Wowereit has announced he is to step down after more than ten years in office as a result of the ongoing row over the construction of Berlin’s controversial airport.   The airport was originally due to open in 2010 but it is now not expected to open until 2016, billions over budget.

LONDON

The Airports Commission, which was set up by the UK Government, has ruled out the idea of building a new four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary.  The airport in the sea had been promoted by the London Mayor Boris Johnston but the Commission said it would be too expensive.  The Commission is still looking at whether there should be a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick Airport.  It will report in summer 2015 but the final decision about what to do will be taken by the Government.

 UK

Every six weeks AirportWatch in the UK publishes an on-line bulletin which gives all news of the campaigns in Britain.  You can read the latest one here: http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/AirportWatch-bulletin-September-2014.pdf

 GERMANY

Campaigners against aircraft, rail and road noise are linking up with each other in Germany.  For more than a century, railroad tracks have cut through the town of Lorchhausen, on the border between the two western German states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. Well over 100 trains, many of them freight trains, rumble through the town every day on their journey through the Rhine Valley, between the cities of Koblenz and Wiesbaden. There are about 60 trains a night — every night — between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.  The victims of railroad noise in the Rhine Valley have teamed up with victims of airport noise in the Frankfurt region, and they are now calling for joint demonstrations in Wiesbaden and Mainz, the respective state capitals of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate.

 AMERICA

Noise complaints have shot up  at Chicago O’Hare Airport since flight paths changed.  There is a big campaign underway:  

PICTURES OF PROTEST

Two pictures of campaigners in action.  The top one shows a recent rally against the third runway at Munich.  The bottom one shows the campaigners against the plan to land jets to at small airstrip on Toronto’s Waterfront in Canada.  The campaigners had a float on the city’s Gay Pride March.

pictures of protest

Major new book on the tactics the authorities now use to deal with protesters published

New Book on Protest Published

Stategische Einbindung (Strategic Intergration) has been published in Germany.  It shows how protest movements are manipulated through mediation, round tables and dialogue.    The book by Michael Wilk and  Bernd Sahler argues that in dealing with large protests such as those  against airport expansion, coal mining, new railway projects (like Stuttgart21), new highways or the building of power line routes the police and judiciary have realised that open repression can be counter-productive.  Instead, the authorities use “soft” measures such as mediation, dialogue and conciliation procedures offer themselves as alternative. Their aim is to channel protest and marginalize resistance. – See more at: http://umweltfairaendern.de/2014/03/lesen-wie-protestbewegungen-manipuliert-werden-ueber-mediationen-runde-tische-eine-bucherveroeffentlichung/#sthash.YkP4Fpac.dpuf

Details of the book: Michael Wilk, Bernd Sahler (ed.): Strategic Integration, From mediations, arbitrations, round tables … and how protest movements are manipulated. Posts resist participation, ISBN 978-3-86841-094-5, approx 170 pages | Price: 14,00 €,