Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Aerotropolis Update, Issue 3

Yet another post about aerotropolis developments, also referred to as 'airport cities'. These airport-centric developments are being planned and constructed worldwide. Here is the third issue of  'Aerotropolis Update', published by the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM). The latest Update contains news of commercial and industrial development around 43 airports in 29 countries. Maps show the proposed land allocation for three projects: Nijgadh airport and aerotropolis in Nepal on an 80 square kilometre site, China-Belarus Industrial Park on a 95.5 square kilometre site adjoining Minsk Airport, and the 'Airport City Gatwick' business park on farmland to the north of one the UK's major airports.

Allocation of large areas of land is a key concern because of displacement of rural communities and loss of productive agricultural land and wildlife habitats. The Update contains information about resistance to two mega-airport projects: Ekiti airport in Nigeria, which was halted by landowners who, after bulldozers arrived and began clearing farmland without warning, filed a suit against land acquisition (see article in Ecologist - Nigerian farmers win High Court Victory in fight against Ekiti airport) and opposition to a second airport on the South Korean island of Jeju. Proliferation of airports cities around the world raises also raises economic concerns - high levels of government expenditure, and overlap with special economic zones offering tax breaks and other incentives.

Friday, 27 November 2015

2nd Aerotropolis Update

Yep, you guessed it, I'm going on about aerotropolis projects again, i.e. airport cities, the airport-centric developments that are being planned and constructed worldwide. Here is the second issue of  'Aerotropolis Update', from the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM). The Update contains news of development around 46 airports. All regions of the world are covered but there is a special focus on Africa and Asia, where large greenfield sites are being allocated for these developments. 

Allocation of large areas of land is a key concern because of displacement of rural communities, land acquisition injustice and loss of undeveloped land that is either agricultural or a valuable ecosystem and wildlife habitat such as forests. Other key concerns are high levels of government expenditure, subsidies such as tax breaks and integration with other destructive megaprojects such as deep water ports, multi-lane highways, oil and gas projects and mega tourism complexes. This Aerotropolis Update is just a fraction on what is happening around the world. Information is already being compiled for Issue 3.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Another aerotropolis update

Its September and I'm getting round to posting about things that happened in July and August...

Epic ecocide continues for construction of Istanbul's third airport, but the campaign to stop the eco-massacre, and the integrated megaprojects - a canal and third bridge across the Bosphorus Strait - it is part of, is amazing. It is co-ordinated by Kuzey Ormanlari Suvanmasi (North Forest Defence), information about the third airport campaign is in this section, and there is some information in English here. The airport is actually a 'Trojan horse' for an aerotropolis, on a vast 77 square kilometre site. Here's my article in The Ecologist about it - Campaigners resist destruction of Istanbul forests and wetlands for airport megaproject. The article was also published by Truthout and here on the Kuzey Ormanlari Suvanmasi website, with three videos that provide an extraordinary record of what is taking place. It is rare for the reality of obliteration of ecosystems for a truly gargantuan megaproject to be exposed like this.

Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM), the new organisation I am a founder member of, published the first issue of GAAM Aerotropolis Update, a round-up of aerotropolis developments around the world. It raises issues of large scale land allocation for aerotropolis schemes, and resistance against this, and subsidies such as tax breaks. Compilation of information for the second issue is underway. There is more content on the GAAM website now, some reports and articles that are critical of aerotropolis projects - hard to find in the deluge of industry information that presents these schemes as miraculous economic engines' for host communities, and some quotations from aerotropolis critics.

Plans for a mini aerotropolis have emerged right on my doorstep here in Yorkshire. An 'airport village' comprising shops, hotel, and and industrial park is planned on greenbelt land, currently used for farming, adjacent to Leeds Bradford Airport. As with all aerotropolis projects the objective of the commercial development is to support the airport's growth. Here is a blogpost about it on the GAAM website. And this a map showing the area in question (within the red line).

 I'm quite pleased with the GAAM logo - not bad for a couple of hours playing around on Powerpoint and a few graphics programmes. If you compare this logo with the standard aerotropolis schematic (a standardised template is used for aerotropolis projects worldwide) you might notice a crucial difference - aside from the no entry sign and the plane superimposed on the image.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Anti-Aerotropolis update

My latest article for The Ecologist website is about aerotropolis projects: Aerotropolis alert! Airport mega-projects driving environmental destruction worldwide. An aerotropolis is airport centric urban development. Established and new airport are surrounded by commercial development which is designed to be aviation dependent. Greenfield (undeveloped) sites are preferred, inevitably entailing the loss of farmland and displacement of rural people, or the destruction of vast tracts of wildlife habitats including forests. Communities are largely excluded from planning and governance of aerotropolis projects, while corporations benefit from infrastructure provision and incentives including tax breaks.

Chapter 11 of my book Plane Truth: Aviation's Real Impact on People and the Environment is all about aerotropolis projects, in several locations in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. Since the book was published it has emerged that aerotropolis developments are even more widespread than I realised, and several are at the larger end of the scale, allocated sites of 100 square kilometres or more. You can read the chapter here on Issuu:

Nearly two months ago I was pleased to announce the launch of the Global Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM). The GAAM website already has a few blogposts about aerotropolis schemes around the world, including in Cairo, Istanbul and Bhogapuram in Andhra Pradesh. A list of articles that are critical or the aerotropolis, both the concept and specific projects, is building up, to start to counter the deluge of industry information that presents the aerotropolis as an economic panacea. As well as checking out the website you can follow GAAM on Twitter and 'Like' the GAAM Facebook page for regular updates about aerotropolis projects and local campaign groups.

GAAM website

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Investment and incentives for Cairo Airport City

The Egyptian government is encouraging investment in Cairo Airport City, a plan for an investment zone around the capital city's airport. This article 'Airport City project to cement Egypt as a major aviation hub in Africa and the Middle East' is quite enlightening. It is from the WorldFolio News website, which states that it 'provides intelligence about the economies with the highest growth potential in the world, with a focus on understanding them from within'. There are interviews with 'key' (i.e. most powerful) government officials and senior business executives.

H.E. Hossam Kamal, Minister of Civil Aviation is interviewed about Cairo Airport City, explaining that it will cover 10 million square metres of land (i.e. 10 square kilometres, actually small compared to the world's largest airport cities - Kuala Lumpur Airport owns 100 square kilometres of land and Dubai’s new airport, Al Maktoum, has been allocated a full 140 square kilometres). Anyway, the Cairo Airport City plan is the usual aerotropolis strategy: use the land around the airport for commercial and industrial activities in order to maximise revenue from non-aviation activities.

The zones planned for the aerotropolis are typical: goods handling and logistics areas linked with the airport's cargo facilities; aviation training; hotels and restaurants to capture revenue from passengers (along with an amusement park to squeeze some revenue out of the captive audience of bored transit passengers). The solar panels planned for Cairo Airport City are not an unusual feature for an aerotropolis. Solar energy will reduce the airport city's fuel bill but they are just a green garnish; as a whole the commercial and industrial development will lead to a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions as it is designed to be aviation dependent, feeding airport growth.

The article makes the standard claims about supposed economic benefits to the region i.e. job creation and revenues. The latter must be weighed against incentives (subsidies such as tax breaks) which are granted to investors. Incentives are not specified but H.E. Hossam Kamal states that the marketing plan 'significantly takes into account offering many incentives and facilities to attract investors'.

No surprise that Cairo Airport City is linked with surface transport infrastructure projects: there is plan for a rail link between the aerotropolis development, Ain Sokhna Port and an investment zone near the Suez Canal where, according to Kamal 'certainly there will be a need to establish airports at the region'. Which shows that the infrastructure development will trigger more infrastructure development.

The interview ends with an outline of the incentives (i.e. subsidies) that Egypt's Ministry of Aviation offers to international airlines. It's quite an insight into the high level of government support for the aviation and tourism industries. International airlines are given reduced landing and waiting fees for operating at airports in 'touristic cities'. In fact there is a 100% exemption from these fees at Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel and Assiut airports, for airlines using these airports as a base.

The Ministry of Aviation also pays towards the services provided to passengers at Egyptian airports: $20 per passenger on international, regular and charter flights and $4 per passenger on domestic routes. Ministers have also intervened to exempt certain airports from loading bridge fees and fire services, and duties have been reduced on aircraft weighing more than 200 tons.

Basically, the Egyptian government is falling over backwards to facilitate aviation growth.

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