The only way to fry? First commercial British flight fuelled by used chip fat is met by naked protesters
In response to the Thomson biofuel flight, using 50% used cooking oil in one
engine, three Plane Stupid activists staged a naked protest – showing that biofuels
are not green, and the Thomson PR exercise is bare faced cheek. Thomson intends,
after a 6 week gap, to have many more biofuel flights in 2012. They hope to use
used cooking oil, but the airline may have to use other fuels, as it is not likely
to get enough of the oil – which is already much in demand.
7.10.2011 (Daily Mail)
Not red faced: Protesters from Plane Stupid at Birmingham airport protesting
against the UK’s first commercial flight using biofuel because of the damage it
does to the rainforest
– Plane flew from Birmingham airport to Lanzarote
– ‘Biofuel production killing rainforests,’ say protesters
By Gavin Allen
A planeload of British holidaymakers have made aviation history by flying to
Lanzarote on a plane fuelled by used chip pan oil.
The Thomson Airways flight from Birmingham airport was the first UK commercial
biofuels flight ever from a UK airport.
One of the engines on the twin- engined Boeing 757 flight was operated on a 50%
blend of ‘Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids’, produced from used cooking oil,
and 50% Jet A1 fuel.
You’re not under a vest: A Plane Stupid protester is led away by police after
the scenes at Birmingham airport
But environmental protesters stripped naked and covered themselves in red body
paint in a bid to disrupt the launch.
Calling themselves Plane Stupid they said that rainforests were being wrecked
to make way for biofuel plantations.
The cooking oil used for the Thomson flights is collected from the kitchens of
hotels and restaurants and then goes through a special processing treatment.
Carl Gissing, director of customer service at Thomson Airways, admitted that
the biofuel cost around five to six times the price of aviation fuel, but said
the airline was prepared to ‘put its money where our mouth is’ because it believed
in sustainable biofuels.
Mr Gissing said: ‘We are proud to be leading the way with the first commercial
biofuel flights and we hope it will make people sit up and take notice.’
Mr Gissing said the move was designed to make a statement which it was hoped
would lead to industry and governments investing in developing fuels which would
reduce carbon emissions.
After today’s light, carrying 232 passengers, there will be a six-week gap before
Thomson starts a full programme of biofuel flights in 2012 from Birmingham Airport.
Dirk Konemeijer, managing director of skyNRG, which supplies the biofuel, said
it made sense to utilise used cooking oil because it was a waste product which
couldn’t be used for anything else. [This is untrue]
It was not economically viable at present to supply the whole of the aviation
industry with the fuel and that was why government support was needed. [The aviation industry is, yet again, asking for subsidy from the public purse
– and this time it is for a misguided idea that does not achieve its stated ambitions,
and is very environmentally and socially damaging].
Long-term other technology was necessary and in three to four years a totally
new fuel could come along. [Cloud cuckoo land again. Where is this magic substance to come from? Why should
anyone believe some remarkable chemical miracle is going to present itself?]
Joe Peacock, from Birmingham Friends of the Earth, however, said: ‘We cannot ignore the massive environmental and social problems
caused by trying to feed our addiction to fossil fuels with plant-based alternatives.’
Plane Stupid protester Chris Cooper said: ‘Thomson seem to be acknowledging that
we can’t continue business as usual in the face of the current climate emergency.
‘It’s a shame their solution is to make matters worse.
‘Vast tracts of rainforest, eco systems vital to halting climate change, are
currently being trashed to make way for biofuel plantations.
‘Land that grows food is being stolen from some of the world’s poorest people
so that it can start feeding planes. It’s a disaster.’