Aviation is a highly carbon intensive mode of transport, and cities around the world have been formulating strategies to reduce the emissions generated by aviation, while noting that most cities are fairly limited in their ability to directly influence or regulate air travel…
[A]viation will likely remain a carbon intensive mode of transport for at least the medium-term future…Thus, cities are generally focussing on providing more sustainable alternatives to aviation, such as inter-city trains and buses, as well as encouraging people to avoid air travel where possible. In France…domestic flights have been banned where alternative public transport options of two-and-a-half hours or less exist, to reduce avoidable transport emissions.
Although the TERP is a good document, we think that the Aviation component of Pathway 4 seems particularly anaemic and unlikely to achieve the target of a reduction of 50% in aviation emissions. It also makes council seem impotent, by having no suggested actions for itself (only a suggestion for central government).
Whilst the report states that “cities are fairly limited in their ability to directly influence or regulate air travel”, it is noted that the city actually makes and applies the rules which govern the granting and use of helipad consents. This is a lever that council does have available to it, which it appears to have overlooked. We are calling on council to consider it now.
Helicopters accounted for approximately 25% of the annual hours flown in New Zealand during the ten-year period ending 31 December 2019 (a high proportion internationally, to match our high levels of helicopter ownership) with a notable trend towards increases in helicopter transport flights.
(p22 & p24, Civil Aviation Authority Report)
Helicopters use much more fuel than fixed-wing aircraft. Compared with similar capacity fixed-wing aircraft (which themselves are less efficient than larger aircraft on a VKT basis) helicopters use about twice as much fuel. Helicopters also travel more slowly than fixed-wing aircraft, so each hour flown achieves less distance and therefore lower VKT (vehicle kilometres travelled – the metric used in the TERP) for the same amount of climate-altering emissions.
There are often multiple helicopter movements associated with the transport of a passenger from origin to destination, because the pilot first travels to pick the passenger up, and often leaves them there, only to return later to transport them back, and then finally returns the helicopter to the original base, or another location.
All of these facts indicate that helicopters contribute a very substantial percentage of aviation emissions (much more than the 25% of hours flown) and that they do so at by far the highest emissions per VKT of any form of transport.
With the preceding information in mind, here are Quiet Sky Waiheke’s suggested further actions, designed (and likely required) to achieve the aims of the TERP:
4.3.2 Undertake a plan change to require assessment of emissions impacts and VKT of helicopter travel, compared with alternative travel options, for all new helipad applications, with the construction and use of a helipad being non-complying, where reasonable alternative travel options exist (AC).
4.3.3 Develop a new National Standard for helipad consenting, which applies retrospectively, and which requires assessment of emissions impacts and VKT of helicopter travel, compared with alternative travel options, with the construction and use of a helipad being non-complying, where reasonable alternative travel options exist (CG).
(The numbering matches that used in the TERP).