Farnborough Airport Inquiry: carbon emissions by business aviation worse
24.6.2010 (CPRE Hampshire)
CPRE Hampshire and local residents had their turn this week to air environmental
concerns at the Public Inquiry into planning refusal to nearly double the number
of take-offs and landings per year at Farnborough Airport from its present limit
of 28,000. While Rushmoor Borough Council listed noise, safety and economic aspects
among grounds for refusal, CPRE Hampshire’s priority has been the impact of climate
This was the first test case of its kind since a High Court judge sent the Heathrow
proposal for a third run-way back to ministers to reconsider climate change policies.
Hugh Sheppard, Chairman of CPRE in North East Hampshire, gave evidence on this
on Wednesday, the last evidence day, as an issue for the Inspectors to consider
before making their recommendation to government ministers on whether to approve
expansion – or not.
CPRE’s case is that the contribution of ‘business aviation’ passengers to climate
change is far greater than has been generally recognised until this Inquiry.
Hugh Sheppard said: “We have established that the average plane-load for a typical
Farnborough business jet aircraft is just 2.5 passengers a time, so each one is
probably responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than by any other means
of transport, apart from space-travel.”
It seems that this approach to emissions on the basis of individual responsibility
has never been taken at previous aviation inquiries, so that there is no historical
precedent for CPRE’s case. This meant that rather than dispute the facts, the
counter-arguments had to rely on business aviation being accepted by government
as ‘a good thing’.
In fact, the emissions figures are so hard to grasp that no-one had recognised
an error of about a million tonnes of CO2 per annum in support papers for the
planning proposal, until the mistake was pointed out by CPRE. (That’s about the
same quantity of greenhouse gases as are generated each year by everyone living
Hugh told the Inquiry he had assessed that fewer than 100,000 passengers pass
through the Farnborough terminal a year, yet, even after the error was corrected,
the total ground-based and aircraft emissions are more than 60% of those for some
1.36 million passengers at London City Airport.
Taking into account that aircraft emissions have a higher impact on the upper
atmosphere than at ground level, Hugh estimates that on a typical trip of about
1,000 km each way, each Farnborough passenger accounts for the equivalent of some
15 to 18 tonnes of CO2. He drew a comparison with the national average of 12
tonnes of CO2 that we are all said to generate each year. The planned increase of flights at Farnborough is equivalent to not bothering
with the zero-carbon credentials for a new eco-town such as Bordon, just ten miles
CPRE urged the Planning Inspectors to recommend refusal of the application.
Notes to editors
CPRE Hampshire strives to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of the
countryside of Hampshire by the sustainable use of land and other resources in
town and country, and encouraging the biodiversity and well-being of rural communities.
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