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Environment influences on Manchester Airport

Free essay example:

Tom Davies

Manchester Airport currently run a number of committed objectives to try and reduce their impact on the environment. Although they recognise that achieving sustainable development is a demanding task they are determined to find a way of accomplish the tasks they set.

Air Quality

Air quality can be affected by a number of different pollutants that in high concentrations can harm human health. There are many sources of air pollution at the Airport, such as staff and passenger cars, aircraft, operational vehicles and heating plant.

Therefore, in relation to air quality, Manchester Airport has set an objective stating that they ‘will continue to reduce air quality and related emissions’.

The main sources of Airport emissions of NO2 are aircraft and road traffic. Road traffic, from nearby roads and motorways makes a significant contribution to the air quality around the airport.

In order to protect human health, the European Commission and UK Government (Air Quality Strategy) have set air quality limits in ambient air that must not be exceeded. Limits have been set for 9 pollutants, and some pollutants have short-term limit, such as 1 hour, and a long-term limit, such as a year. Therefore, the Airport has had to calculate and modelled perspective NO2 emissions in order to see whether the limit is being broken.

The short-term limit value for NO2 is not exceeded at the Airport. The long-term limit value for NO2 is 40µgm-3 measured as an annual average and is exceeded in some areas of the Airport site.’

Source: Manchester Airport Air Quality Report 2008

Therefore, the are in a joint scheme with Manchester City Council, which has an air quality monitoring station, situated on the airport boundary, called Manchester South which records and monitors pollutants such as NO2 and Sulphur Dioxide. This is an aid to help the Airport make sure they are not exceeding pollutant levels and are continually achieving their objective. In addition to this they made a commitment in their environment plan that they would purchase a PM2.6 monitoring station for Manchester South, by 2010, however, this target was completed during 2008 as it was purchased and is now up and running.

The have also tried to reduce emissions the Airport gives off by introducing a ‘Smart’ electric car on a 3-year lease. By using this vehicle, they will be able to decide in which areas of their business they are able to use electric vehicles. Although they have a restricted driving range and 8 hour charging times they produce no on site emissions and produce less carbon dioxide per kilometre. This idea of thought was carried on through 2009, where the Airport organised an electrical car open day, which allowed managers and service partners to be shown what vehicles could now be used. Parallel to this they have decided to carry out a series of initiatives and events to raise awareness around green driving techniques.

Climate Change

Manchester Airport are also aware of the affects they have on climate change, and have stated that they will continue to reduce emissions of Carbon

Dioxide, (CO2). And have set an aim of being carbon neutral for energy use and fuel by 2015.

They have based this on the principles of reducing their need for energy, then using that energy as efficiently as possible, moving to renewable energy sources and finally, off-setting any remaining emissions. Their commitment also applies to the CO2 emissions arising from our energy use and operational vehicles.

In relation to fuel, their combined heat and power station –at Terminal 2 reached the end of its economic life in March 2007 and was closed. Consequently, their gas use (and oil) has decreased but this has been compensated for by a rise in their imported electricity. 2008 is the first full year without the CHP operating.

Renewable electricity comes from sources such as wind turbines and hydroelectric power stations. Manchester Airport has been increasing the amount of electricity they buy from renewable sources, via a green tariff from our supplier, since 2004. They buy electricity for their own use and for all service partners’ buildings and facilities at the Airport. Renewable electricity costs them a premium to buy. For reporting purposes, the amount of renewable electricity bought is split between MAG and the service partners that they buy and supply electricity for.

In 2008 Manchester Airport purchased, for the Airport site, 28% of their electricity from renewable sources via a green tariff contract with their supplier. This saved a total of 20,707 tCO2, counting this electricity as zero carbon dioxide. Their CO2 emissions in our carbon neutral commitment become 57,799 tCO2 instead of 72,890 tCO2. Service partner emissions in 2008 become 17,252 tCO2 instead of 22,891 tCO2.

Manchester Airport has currently set a number of focus areas of work for 2009. These include making energy efficiency savings of over 2000 tCO2, and preparing a business case and carbon savings appraisal for the replacement of gas-fired boilers in Terminals 1 and 2. In addition to this they also want to Off-set the CO2 emissions from MAG employees’ business travel and develop a ‘Manchester Airport Carbon Pledge’ for service partners asking them to commit to working with them to measure, manage and reduce their CO2 emissions.

Night Noise

Manchester Airport’s night noise policy has set out a number of objectives in wish the hope to achieve:

• Ensure that aircraft noise at night does not exceed the levels recorded during

2001/2 (the year Runway 2 opened).

• To encourage the use of quieter aircraft.

• To meet noise abatement objectives asadopted from time to time.

Source: Manchester Airport: Night Noise Policy

Every aircraft arriving and departing at night from the Airport is given a noise classification, by the Civil Aviation Authority, known as a Quota Count (QC) based on ICAO noise certification data. This is so the Airport is able to acknowledge whether the aircraft is creating more noise than it should be, allowing them to impose penalties if needs be.

In addition, this newly updated policy significantly tightens the night noise limit from 85 dBA to 83 dBA and also increases the minimum penalty, which they Airport can impose from £500 to £750. The purpose of imposing noise penalties is to encourage pilots to fly their aircraft in the quietest possible manner and to encourage airlines to change to quieter aircraft. All penalties that are received are also donated to Manchester Airport Community Trust Fund.

Aircraft maintenance is an important part of the activities at the Airport and the source of many jobs. A necessary part of maintenance is the need to test engines prior to an aircraft being brought back into service, however this has also had to bee limited due to the significant amount of noise it created. Therefore, a specially designed engine test bay has been constructed to limit the impact on local residents.

Moreover, engine testing on the airfield only takes place as an exception, when prevailing wind direction prevents the use of engine test bay. No such tests are allowed at night and only 20 night tests a year are allowed within the test bay. This is a legal commitment contained within the agreement with Cheshire County Council.

In addition, the period during which the 20 night tests can be undertaken has been restricted by a further hour to commence at 22:00 rather than 23:00.

Manchester Airport has also introduced operational measures, as they believe they are an important way of encouraging quiet operations and best practice. They have introduced a number of new operating measures and strengthened the existing policies.

As well as this, they have introduced continuous descent approaches, restricted the use of early turns and extended the period during which non-standard departures and visual approaches are restricted.

Lastly, Manchester Airport monitors the noise levels of all aircraft operating at the Airport. Monitoring is a requirement of both the Runway 2 Planning Conditions and the legal agreement they hold with Cheshire County Council. The monitoring of performance against targets is externally audited on an annual basis. The results of this audit are reported to the Manchester Airport Consultative Committee. Members of the Environmental Health Officers consultative group also have access to night noise information for audit and performance monitoring purposes.

Landscape, Ecology and Cultural Heritage

Manchester Airport’s Landscape, Ecology and Cultural Heritage policy has set the objective stating that they want to limit their effects on nature conservation, landscape, archaeological resources and cultural heritage and, where possible, to create new features and enhance the ecological and landscape value of the area.

They have created an artificial otter holt working with Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the Riparian Mammal BAP Group (whose members include Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Cheshire Mammal Group, BASC, Macclesfield Borough Council and the Environment Agency). The holt will support the species as it passes through the area, both as a resting place and as a possible breeding area. The holt has been sited away from human disturbance and will be monitored.

The Civil Aviation Authority defines a series of Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) which are notional surfaces above which the penetration of obstacles should be prevented or controlled. Manchester Airport must comply with statutory requirements relating to OLS in the vicinity of the Airport. The airport conducts surveys to determine if any trees and shrubs penetrate the OLS, these surveys are carried out are carried annually. The Airport had to reduce the heights of a number of trees around the Second Runway during 2008 in order to comply.

Manchester Airport has also had to prepare and appropriate scheme and licence is secured to exclude great crested newts from the Concorde hangar construction site. A pond known to be a habitat for great crested newts (a protected species) is located directly adjacent to the site where the new Concorde hangar and visitor centre was to be built. A licence to exclude the newts was secured from Natural England. This involved erecting a plastic fence and sinking buckets into the ground. Daily checks were made to collect any newts caught. Following 30 days of no capture the site was declared free of great crested newts allowing construction works to commence. The plastic fence was retained to prevent further great crested newts from entering the construction site.

Construction of a new £1.1 million Concorde hangar and visitor centre commenced in autumn 2008. The glass, steel and high tech PVC structure measures 68 metres by 38 metres. The new development includes a corporate hospitality suite capable of housing up to 75 delegates, an education centre for school tours, an aviation exhibition and a glass-walled visitor restaurant alongside Concorde with views of the runways. Renewable energy technology has been built into the structure. Rainwater collected from the roof will also be collected in a tank and used for flushing the toilets.

The Landscape and Habitat Management Plan area was developed by the Airport to mitigate the impact of the construction of the Second Runway on local fauna and flora. Covering an area of 350 hectares around the Second Runway, it is comprised of arable land, woodland, wildflower grassland, ponds and hedgerows.

Ecological monitoring has been wide ranging and included botanical monitoring of the new woodlands and grasslands, monitoring of butterflies and the even an assessment of the earthworm population.

Waste Management

Their objective relating to waste management is to produce less and to increase recycling and waste recovery rates.

Around 85% of the waste generated at the Airport comes from service partner activities, including aircraft cleaning waste and retail and catering. The challenge is therefore to persuade these companies to review their purchasing policies and to encourage staff to reuse and recycle materials wherever possible.

The total tonnage of waste generated has fallen by 10% from last year. This partly reflects lower passenger numbers this year and also the impact of waste minimisation initiatives.

Over 1,600 tonnes of waste was recycled in 2008. This includes over 600 tonnes of newspaper and office paper and 200 tonnes of glass – the equivalent of around 1million-beer bottles. Their retailers collected over 500 tonnes of cardboard. And the Airport also recycled smaller quantities of green landscape trimmings, metal, wooden pallets, cans, aerosols and plastic bottles.

The Airport’s main waste contract now has provision for the recycling or disposal of 14 separate materials.

They currently source and segregate all materials for recycling which means that they obtain good quality material that has sustained markets.

They have also adopted the WRAP branding for all they’re recycling communication and signage a few years ago. This branding is being increasingly used by local authorities for their kerbside recycling collections and for recycling bins in public places. They feel this his will help to reinforce the message to bring good recycling habits from home into the workplace.

Following audits into the quantities of plastic bottles within terminal catering and cleaning wastes, Manchester Airport have introduced new plastic bottle recycling collections. These are currently within coffee shops and cafes and also in office areas.

These audits and trials indicated that passengers were prepared to separate materials for recycling to a good quality standard that would allow the material to be recycled without sorting again. Therefore the Airport has reviewed suitable recycling bins for the terminal areas, and has commissioned a bespoke bin that met their requirements and budget.

Manchester Airport had also had to take measures to reduce waste due to the liquid ban:

‘We have installed posters and graphics in our check in area to encourage passengers to check in items prohibited due to the liquid ban and hence reduce the amount of waste collected.

Whilst aerosols and sharps have been separately collected at security search for some time, new recycling bins have been installed to separately collect the 350 tonnes of full and part full plastic bottles discarded each year.

Bins are located prior to security for use by passengers, and at the security search benches themselves. The collected bottles will be put through a baler to remove the liquid. This is due to be commissioned in early 2009 and will eliminate 300 tonnes from our waste generation figure and increase recycling by 50 tonnes.’

Source: Manchester Airport’s Waste Management Policy

The airport has also undertaken trails on a ‘take-back’ recycling scheme with a retail company. In this trail cardboard and plastic shrink-wrap was collected and returned to the warehouse for recycling. Whilst the retailer already collected cardboard, the separation of shrink-wrap was new. The trial gave useful information on the quantities of shrink-wrap that could be collected and on how the quality of cardboard collections can be improved by the additional level of supervision.

During 2008 the Airport also set up more formal links with 2 local charities, the Tree of Life in Wythenshawe and St Ann’s Hospice in Heald Green. Furniture, textiles and working electrical equipment is donated to these charities to fund their community work. In 2008, over 1100 children’s’ buggies were donated that had been left on the Airport’s baggage carousels by passengers. In addition, they also donated around 200 bags of small fleece blankets to a variety of animal charities including the Manchester Dogs’ Home and a local hedgehog sanctuary.

Water Resources

Manchester Airport’s objective regarding water management is, ‘To use less mains water and to control activities and developments on site to help improve the quality of local watercourses’.

Source: Manchester Airport’s Water Management Report

The Airport reviewed their fowl sewage for the ‘ West Side’ of the site by having external consultants undertaking a detailed study of our foul drainage system from both the West Side and Cargo Centre. This was to ensure they have the capacity within the system to develop and relocate operations without over-loading the network causing pollution incidents.

The Airport has also installed new water monitoring has been installed at the River Bollin outfall. This monitoring provides the people at Manchester Airport with an early warning of changes in conditions to discharges to their controlled waters, which then allows them to take action if they need to.

After further evaluation of the Airport’s surface water treatment plant, they have invested £100,000 within the site dealing with drainage infrastructure, which has been designed to improve the quality of dirty surface runoff from parts of the site. This will then allow the runoff to be released into the local watercourse rather then sent for treatment off-site.

Moreover, due to the updating of law and legislation the Airport has to be regularly changing the way in which it carries out specific activities. This has led to the Airport having to review their anti-icing chemicals. By them changing this product it has lowered their pollution loading of wastewater sent to United Utilities treatment works. This in turn has enabled them to reduce their trade effluent charges.

Manchester Airport has also started a water conservation program, which has led to them taking measures within their toilet facilities continued with all new and refurbished toilet facilities using water saving devices. Parallel to this, they have installed a refurbished bio-chemical oxygen demand (BOD) monitor at the outlet of their on-site treatment plant. This has been a great advantage to them as it provides them with better control of their discharge to controlled waters consented by the Environment Agency ensuring they are within our permitted consent.

It is clear to see that Manchester Airport are both setting measurable targets but are also trying extremely hard along side other organisations to achieve them to make the Airport a more environmentally friendly place. In addition, they are complying with current legislation after both assessing and meeting the potential environmental issues that are thrown up from day to day activities. As well as dealing with issues that are typically related to the Airport such as night noise and air quality they are also trying to help and give back to the local community by setting up cultural heritage sites to look after wildlife.

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