Richard Branson, part-time eco-warrior, part-time carbon criminal, spent today opening a new university and asking students to help him 'think green'. Branson wants students to pitch into his efforts to reduce the emissions from his growing fleet of trans-Atlantic aircraft.
"Among ideas the entrepreneur is inviting undergraduates to consider are lightweight seat to improve fuel efficiency, Virgin Atlantic uniforms made from recycled materials and energy efficient facilities at airport terminals."
Our spy-in-the-sky reports that Mr. Branson's suggestions met with hushed giggles from the students, who pointed out that grounding Virgin aircraft and stopping plans for space tourism might do more for reducing emissions than dressing trolley dolleys in costumes made from old duty-free bottles.
Call me a cynic, but I'm willing to bet the upcoming consultations on expanding Heathrow airport don't halt the government's madcap plans to lay tarmac all over west London. It's not that I don't trust the public to make the "right" decision; more that whenever the aviation industry asks the questions it gets the result it wanted, even if it contradicts every other survey.
Pro-expansion lobby group Future Heathrow recently published a Populus survey which shows surprising support for Heathrow expansion. They polled 1,000 residents from the west London boroughs that comprise the 2M group, and discovered 56% supported ending runway alternation (switching the runway used for take-offs at 3pm, to give locals respite from aircraft noise). This contradicted last year's ICM poll by the Mayor of London, which found only 26% supported ending alternation. Begging the question: why did the industry survey get the results it did?
Only problem is that we caught them at it. Earlier this week FM Director Michelle Di Leo sent an email to the administrator of an aviation campaigners discussion list, pretending to be an Italian campaigner against airport expansion. Calling herself 'Bella Regazza', she asked to be included in the mailing list.
Back in September the Lib Dem conference was blessed by the attendance of Michelle Di Leo from Flying Shatters.
For the purposes of clandestine operations against aviation activists, Michelle now goes by the nom de guerre 'Bella Regazza'. Honestly, I'm not kidding. She imagines herself, perhaps, as a soldier of fortune marching through the jungle of our 24/7 media, a duty free RyanAir gift tie knotted around her forehead as she slices down hippies with her sharpened machete of corporate truth.
As you're probably aware, Labour is deadly serious about climate change. They're seriously thinking about possibly making a start.
Their latest attempt comes in the form of the Climate Bill, a serious piece of legislation which will set a series of legally binding carbon budget periods lasting five years each. Unfortunately the draft target for 2050 is inadequate: a 60% reduction on 1990 levels, and more pertinently, the bill excludes Aviation - the fastest growing source of greenhouse gasses in the UK. The draft bill - before consultation - had a built-in loophole you could fly a jumbo through, and everyone knew it.
Here at Plane Stupid Towers we're usually full of gloomy, cynical predictions, jaded as we are by the outrageous behaviour of the aviation industry. So it's a real treat to relay some good news for once.
Passengers numbers on domestic UK flights have fallen for virtually the first time since domestic aviation began. Okay - so they've only fallen 0.8%, and to put this in perspective numbers of passengers on internal flights mushroomed over 60% in the last ten years alone.