Introducing environmental decision making
Introducing environmental decision making

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Introducing environmental decision making

5.6.2 Runway capacity issues

There is still a long way to go before the bulldozers move into Stansted. Although the government has indicated that a new runway should be built at Stansted by 2012, it is now up to the BAA, the de facto owner of Stansted, to submit a plan for expansion for approval by the governmental planning authorities. This will inevitably involve a public inquiry, which will consult a range of local stakeholders and assess the impacts of expansion. A decision will then be made by a judge on whether a second runway should be built or not.

Box 8 The public inquiry process in the UK

Public inquiries are initiated by the UK government when significant reviews of the events are deemed necessary. Typical events that result in public inquiries are usually those that involve multiple deaths such as transport crashes or mass murders, but an important sub-set involve major infrastructural developments which now have a major public impact. Airport expansion falls within this category.

A public inquiry is usually chaired by a well-known and well-respected member of UK society such as a judge, university professor or senior civil servant. These inquiries require the presentation in public of all evidence and the chair then submits a report containing recommendations to the UK government which usually approves the findings. This public submission of evidence significantly escalates costs. For example the Heathrow Terminal 5 inquiry involved the collection of 724 pieces of evidence from witnesses, 5900 documents, 27,500 written presentations and 100 site visits.

The BAA is currently trying very hard to improve its social and environmental image in order to help the plan receive a much more favourable response from the inquiry process. Stansted is just one of many airports across Europe where issues of runway capacity are being addressed. These issues are likely to be headline news for many years to come.

Figure 30 Please leave your earthly responsibilities here

Activity 25 Listening to Ugandan views on aviation expansion

Airport expansion within the UK will have global repercussions, not only as a result of contributions to climate change but also because the aeroplanes taking off from British airports will have to land somewhere. So expansion in the UK will almost inevitably lead to expansion in many airports throughout the world. The views of stakeholders outside the UK were not even considered. Take this opportunity to listen to the audio programme, Perspectives from Uganda, and consider: How does the situation in Uganda differ from that in the UK?

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Perspectives from Uganda
Skip transcript: Perspectives from Uganda (18 minutes 50 seconds)

Transcript: Perspectives from Uganda (18 minutes 50 seconds)

Perspectives from Uganda

Commentary
Managing aviation in developing countries presents a radically different set of challenges to those faced by managers in the UK.These contrasts are particularly marked in the roles that aviation plays in national and local economies, and in its socio-economic and environmental impacts.The East African State of Uganda's principal airport is Entebbe International – situated outside the capital Kampala on the shores of Lake Victoria.Dr Wenceslas Rama Makuza – Deputy Managing Director of Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority – describes the vital role that Entebbe airport plays in Uganda's economy:
Dr Makuza
The role of Entebbe International Airport is actually as the kingpin of the air transport infrastructure, in that it is the gateway outside and into Uganda by air. It is the only international airport Uganda has.Now, the major role it has played in air transport is for the international travelling passengers, the imports and exports of cargo, and the general requirements of air transport. Now the impact this airport has had is the linkage between the developed world and the poor of the countryside of Uganda. Smallholding farming that is oriented for exports, examples are the traditional grown crops particularly fruits, vegetables that are grown by smallholding peasants but there is a collective marketing system that links by those who put them into load sizes for export.The second that is actually causing a lot of impact now, is in two areas. One is the fish exports – we are now having more than 17 foreign investors who have come in for fish processing, ready for the interests of the European market. The second area is in the flower farming – at the moment the focal area of the market is Britain and Holland, and this has had a lot of impact and most of the farmers, because of a need for proximity, being near the Airport. You will find them within an area of, let's say a radius of about 40 kilometres from the Entebbe International Airport and Entebbe International Airport, with its existence has induced this type of investment.
Commentary
For an airport to have such a direct positive economic impact on the population in its vicinity may be quite surprising to those who have only considered the impacts of aviation in developed countries, but when it comes to the environmental impacts, there are some surprises too.Richard Okulu is General Manger of Entebbe International and acting director of airports nationally:
Richard Okulu
The issues relating to environmental problems at this airport are quite varied. But typically in most airports the noise is foremost, definitely noise has this nature of being irritating and whatever, and it is a disturbance to society. And fortunately it hasn't taken a very serious turn here in this part of the world, specifically here because the community establishment is not so much built up nearest to the airport or within the take-off and landing areas. But still there is noise, but at the same time we have not got the scientific tools to measure these noise levels. So we generally take it as noise being pollution, but its effect is not so much realised. I would say I would be the one to complain most being here, as I said, the noise generated from the airside and my office is fairly near here, it is quite irritating, it is very disturbing, a lot of times I cannot even hold meetings in this office.The community itself, I think some of them could be more excited about it, rather than it being a complaint. The country being what it is in a developing world, it is certainly more exciting to be seeing aeroplanes sometimes rather than saying, it is too noisy, take it somewhere else.
Commentary
So far from being a nuisance the local population still regard aeroplanes as something of a novelty. And there are other factors which mitigate against noise being a major problem, as Dr Rama Makuza points out.
Dr Makuza
Entebbe International Airport, it is settled on the peninsula surrounded by Lake Victoria on either side of the runways. We have two runways – the approaches into the airport and moving out of the airport by aircraft go over the water. And there is very little settlement of population around. All the same, even if it had to be a problem, the aircraft movements in and out of Entebbe Airport are still negligibly low. If you compare them with an airport like Heathrow, where the noise is constantly on – minute in, minute out – and it has been a big concern by the existing community around the airport, to the extent that it has a night curfew for operations. This one is not a major issue.
Commentary
The low volume of traffic certainly reduces the airport's environmental impact compared to the world's busiest airports. Richard Okulu again:
Richard Okulu
Other pollution, I think you would be talking about problem emissions from the aircraft, but the traffic level here is so low, it is really not like anything you would compare to London Heathrow or something. So it does not seem to be a problem.
Commentary
But as Dr Rama Makuza says, there are some environmental protection measures which have caused problems for the airlines.
Dr Makuza
The issue we have is the outcry by the airlines themselves. Entebbe International Airport is unfortunately lying in the gazetted area for the birds. It is a bird sanctuary. It is the breeding centre for migrating birds from northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere and the airport itself is very close to the equator.So bird strikes were, for some years back, a big concern by airlines. They were having damages to engines. We had to take up a corrective measure.Nature Uganda, which is an organisation that is actually taking care of wildlife being left within its natural environment, Civil Aviation Authority was induced to be a member. We are currently members and the interests of that organisation – Nature Uganda – was that the Civil Aviation Authority and the management of Entebbe International Airport do not harm birds because the airport is living within a bird sanctuary area. Now what we have had to do as well, was not really to eradicate birds by the area, but has been to use other measures that would have the birds be off the flight paths of airlines. These ones have been mainly through using gunfire – only making the noise and they get off. Then others, who have had to go through research with use of environmental experts, by recording different sounding of birds when they are harmed – you know when they are feeling pain and normally when they hear that sounding, they fly away from the neighbourhood knowing that there is trouble to them.Then we have also used the foot patrollers. This has been borrowed from Addis Ababa airport, where we have the physical presence of employees moving around the runways so that the birds do not come to settle.
Richard Okulu
We have a unit which is dedicated to control bird strikes at this airport and this has been on for the last five years. Since that unit came into force we have recorded a marked drop in the number of bird strikes. I need not tell you that bird strike is serious problem as far as operation of aircraft is concerned because one large bird, can destroy a whole aircraft. And you are not only talking about lives you are also talking about property, you are talking about all sorts of things – finances.So we have taken this very serious concern on these birds and we have a lot of data now because we believe knowing the animal is how you can actually take care of it. So we have in our databank now all sorts of information – its seasonality, its areas of roosting. And linking up with the community around this area here, we have very close relationship with the community.
Commentary
Dr Rama Makuza agrees with Richard Okulu that good community relations have played a key role in tackling the problem of bird strike.
Dr Makuza
Being surrounded by water, we have very many landing sites particularly by our traditional fishermen and women. They use canoes – on landing they have fish that is exposed and is always an attraction to birds.It is a big issue, we are trying, by having them as partners to us, and we have had to go through educational programmes.We are also helped now by the fish processors that have set up factories in that the end market, which is mainly Europe, is also involved into the hygiene requirements of processing fish.So what has been a problem over time jointly with the airport management and the fisheries authorities, together with investors in fish, this problem we are having of attracting birds may die out so that there are no birds that are coming in.At times they would have even leave refuse after cutting fish, and then you find quite a number of birds coming in. So this is a problem we are looking at but we hope we are going to manage it by having these fishermen and women improve on their habits of handling fish.
Commentary
Keen to capitalise on the investment and economic development opportunities offered by Entebbe International – the Ugandan government and Civil Aviation Authority have embarked on an expansion plan. Dr Rama Makuza:
Dr Makuza
There is rising traffic within and out of Uganda. We are going to make expansion of the old airport to have a new cargo centre to handle most of the exports. So we have to develop a new apron. We will have to strengthen that runway that has been existing from the fifties.We are going to shift quite a number of facilities like VIP lounge to that area and the domestic operations. So that we leave the existing runway mainly for scheduled international airlines and those in the region.In addition we are intending to have more commercialisation of Entebbe International Airport by setting up an airport city which will also have a free zone area and we are trying to focus more on the customers coming from the region. This airport city and free zone is the target for the requirements of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Northern Tanzania and Eastern Kenya and of course serving the interests of the whole of Uganda.This is initiated because we are mandated to operate under commercial principles; but to also look at these commercial principles definitely the support for it to do business is through increase of volumes through Entebbe International Airport.Now this involves proposals to Government and the Government has already OK'd giving us the opportunity of having a free zone and airport city.The whole idea came about after making a benchmark with the other leading free zone areas particularly at Singapore, Schiphol, Dubai and Shannon.We have had to involve stakeholders in this and these ones have been structured in these three areas:One was popularising it within our management team – the board.Secondly: through the market itself, the market place stakeholders – the importers and the exporters. Then quite a number have a lot of contributions they have given us on what they would expect in order to have this place as a vibrant place for commercial activities.The third area has been the external ones, particularly parliamentarians who have a committee of transport which we have had to involve in order to popularise that. We have also had those within the judiciary, in the requirements of licensing that might be required. Then we have also had to involve, on acquisition of land which initially has been under the Ministry for Animal Industry and it has now been transferred to Civil Aviation Authority. Noticing what impact this one would have to cause to the economy.
Commentary
But it's not only economic considerations which are taken into account; diplomacy plays a role as well.
Dr Makuza
Uganda will be hosting the commonwealth summit meeting in 2007 and we expect not less than 60 heads of state and some of these heads of state, including Her Majesty The Queen, may have more than one aircraft – that will require an area of parking for them. That is why we have had to make radical decision for improving the old airport.
Commentary
But just as in more developed countries, there is always competition for public funds and development priorities, and Richard Okulu fears that some sections of the population may not welcome the expansion plans.
Richard Okulu
The local population's attitude or views towards expansion of the airport, in as far as improvement of facilities is concerned, might not go down very well because the problems in this country are vast and varied. Because if you looked in other sectors, other than the aviation sector itself, I mean you are talking about the health, you are talking about education, talking about – all these need to be boosted up. Now for a high percentage of society to appreciate what goes on in the airport, I think it would be a dream because probably there is a high percentage whose basic needs are not met.But at the same time we can not sit by because this – all these projects still contribute to the economy of this country. So at the higher level, certainly we know it is a good thing, but it is not appreciated at the lower level.
End transcript: Perspectives from Uganda (18 minutes 50 seconds)
Perspectives from Uganda (18 minutes 50 seconds)
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Discussion

In Uganda, the scale of the issue is quite different. Entebbe Airport is relatively small with far fewer flights per week than Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted or other airports in the South East of England. Airport expansion in Uganda would be seen as a positive sign of development and a boost to the national economy. These social and economic concerns are more important than environmental issues. The constraints on airport expansion in Uganda are more to do with limited national resources than opposition by local inhabitants or any environment concerns. There are some environmental impacts that are of concern but these are about wildlife and natural habitats rather than the impacts on human population which are the focus of opposition to UK airport expansion.

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