Huge expansion plans by all UK airports mean carbon cap would be greatly exceeded
The UK aviation sector has massive expansion plans, that would take its carbon emissions way above even a lax future cap. UK airports are planning to expand almost three times faster than the government’s climate change advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), say is sustainable. Sky News has done an analysis, which shows the “masterplans” for 21 of the country’s biggest airports show they intend to add 192 million passengers to the 286 million that already use their terminals, over the next 10-20 years. That’s a growth of 67%. It far exceeds the ceiling of “at most 25%” that the Committee on Climate Change has told the Department of Transport is the limit for sustainable growth if the UK is to meet its commitment for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Heathrow plans for almost 50 million more passengers per year (it had about 80 million in 2018). Gatwick hopes to add 24 million passengers to the 46 million per year it now has. Southampton hopes to expand from 2 million to 5 million passengers by 2037 – an increase of 151%. Doncaster Sheffield airport, wants passenger numbers to grow from 1.2 to 7.2 million. Belfast City airport wants to almost double the number of passengers to four million over the coming years. And so on.
UK airport expansion plans make 2050 climate change target unlikely
London Heathrow, with its plan for a controversial third runway, is hoping to attract a further 50 million passengers on its own.
By Thomas Moore – Science and medical correspondent @SkyNewsThomas
15 October 2019
UK airports are planning to expand almost three times faster than the government’s climate change advisers say is sustainable, according to research by Sky News.
Our analysis of the “masterplans” for 21 of the country’s biggest airports show they intend to add 192 million passengers to the 286 million that already use their terminals over the next 10-20 years.
That’s a growth of 67%.
It far exceeds the ceiling of “at most 25%” that the Committee on Climate Change has told the Department of Transport is the limit for sustainable growth if the UK is to meet its commitment for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Lord Deben, the chairman of the committee, told Sky News: “The fact is, it is the law that we have to keep our emissions down.
“I don’t want to stop people having holidays. That would be the last thing I want.
“But you can’t have a holiday at the cost of the Earth. If you want to have holidays the industry has to find ways of having holidays without destroying the Earth.”
Heathrow, with its plan for a controversial third runway, accounts for 50 million extra passengers.
But even if Boris Johnson scraps the runway – and he vowed to lie in front of the bulldozers when he was elected as a west London MP in 2015 – our figures show the government faces a massive challenge in curtailing passenger numbers.
Three-quarters of the anticipated passenger growth is at other airports.
Gatwick, the UK’s second-busiest airport, hopes to add 24 million passengers to the 46 million already using its terminals.
But our research reveals even small airports have big plans.
Southampton hopes to expand from two million to five million passengers by 2037 – an increase of 151%.
But the biggest expansion of all is at Doncaster Sheffield airport, where passenger numbers could growth from 1.2 to 7.2 million – that’s up 490%.
Belfast City airport wants to almost double the number of passengers to four million over the coming years.
Brian Ambrose, its chief executive, defended the growth, adding that the local economy stood to benefit.
“We are an island off an island. Flying is essential,” he said.
“We are fortunate that we have airlines with more modern aircraft with fewer emissions. If we grow with that kind of product we can grow and reduce our emissions at the same time.”
According to the Committee on Climate Change, aircraft using UK airports produce 37 million tonnes of greenhouse gas a year.
But fuel efficiency is expected to improve by just 1.4% a year and low-carbon biofuels are expected to make up only 10% of aircraft fuel in 2050.
That’s nowhere near enough to compensate for the planned-for increase in passengers.
Controls on numbers, perhaps with a levy on frequent flyers or a carbon tax, look inevitable.
Northern Ireland’s busiest airport ranked bottom of an annual survey by consumer group Which?
Lord Deben said: “The overarching matter is that we are steadily destroying our ability to live on this Earth.
“The idea that something is good for the economy only stands up if the economy itself is properly protected.
“That is what we are doing in our net-zero plan which is now the law. Because we need it to make sure this planet is available for future generations.
“The thing that is good for the economy are the green changes that we are making in this country and are leading the world on.”
Green groups and the London mayor will challenge Heathrow’s expansion plans in the Court of Appeal on Thursday. Their case was dismissed by two High Court judges in May.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has said he is separately looking at whether “the figures stack up” to justify the third runway.
How much is your nearest airport planning to expand?
Tuesday 15 October 2019 (Sky News)
Airports across the UK have revealed how much they are planning to expand over the next two decades.
Doncaster Sheffield is planning to boost passenger numbers by 490% by 2037, while Heathrow wants to increase its capacity by 50 million – to 130 million travellers a year, according to airport “masterplans” reviewed by Sky News.
Find your nearest airport below to see how much it is planning to expand in the coming years.
The airport is planning to increase passenger numbers by 66% in the next two decades. It had just over three million passengers in 2018 and is aiming for more than five million by 2040. Aberdeen master plan
The airport plans to increase passenger numbers from 2.51 million in 2018 to 3.2 million by 2030 – a 28% rise, according to figures from environmental group Airport Watch. Some plans
The airport’s masterplan includes a target to have 10.4 million passengers in 2030, 66% up on the 6.27 million travellers in 2018. No plan?
The airport wants to expand to have 18 million passengers a year by 2033. That would be a 45% increase on the 12.46 million passengers that travelled in 2018. Birmingham master plan
The airport wants to increase passenger numbers by 38% to 12 million by 2025. It had 8.7 million travellers in 2018. Bristol airport master plan
The airport is aiming to increase passenger numbers by 90% to three million, although it has not said which year this would be achieved. It had 1.58 million passengers in 2018. Cardiff airport master plan
According to a draft masterplan for the London airport, it wants to boost passenger numbers by 128% by 2035. It had 4.82 million passengers in 2018 but wants this to rise to 11 million. Draft master plan
The airport plans to expand passenger numbers by a massive 490% over the next two decades. It had 1.22 million passengers in 2018 and hopes to have 7.2 million by 2037. Airport master plan
The airport is planning to increase passenger numbers by more than double, from 4.87 million in 2018 to 10 million in 2040. East Midlands plan
The airport had 14.29 million passengers in 2018 but wants this to rise by 44% to 20.5 million by 2040. Edinburgh airport master plan
The UK’s second busiest airport is aiming to expand passenger numbers to 70 million by 2032-33. This would be a 52% increase on the 49.09 million passengers it had 2018. Master Plan
The airport is planning to increase passenger numbers by 98%, from 9.66 million in 2018 to 19.17 million by 2040. Glasgow
The UK’s biggest airport is aiming to increase annual passenger numbers to 130 million – up 62% on the 80.12 million travellers in 2018. The extra capacity will come from building a third runway. Heathrow plans
The airport wants to boost passenger numbers by 55% in the next decade. It had 5.05 million passengers in 2018 and is aiming for 7.8 million by 2030, and 11 million by 2050. Liverpool master plan
The airport is aiming to increase its capacity to 32 million passengers a year – a 50% increase on the 16.77 million passengers in 2018. Luton airport master plan
The airport’s masterplan is to have 50 million passengers in 2030, up 77% on the 28.29 million passengers in 2018. Manchester airport master plan
The airport had 5.33 million passengers in 2018 but wants this to increase to 9.4 million a year by 2035 – a 76% increase. Newcastle airport master plan
The airport is planning to increase passenger numbers by 151% by 2037. It had 1.99 million passengers in 2018 but is aiming for five million a year. Southampton airport master plan
The airport is aiming to boost passenger numbers by 238% by 2022 to five million travellers a year. It had 1.48 million passengers in 2018. Southend plan
The airport wants to expand to have 43 million passengers a year, up 53% on the 28 million passengers in 2018. However the airport’s plan, which was agreed by the local authority, is under review. Stansted plan
Heathrow expansion dealt huge blow by Committee on Climate Change aviation carbon advice
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the Government that aviation will become the biggest source of carbon in the UK by 2050 and that expansion at Heathrow leaves very little room for growth at any other airport. In the letter, CCC Chair Lord Deben states that demand for aviation will need to be reduced and policies implemented to help limit that demand. The CCC state that Government need to reassess its airport capacity strategy to ensure that the increase in air travel demand by 2050 is half what is currently predicted. They suggest that a frequent flyer levy would help to curb the demand for growth or alternatively Government could raise taxes on airlines or restrict airport capacity growth. In a direct blow to aviation industry claims of technological solutions to aviation’s carbon problem, the CCC states that zero-carbon aviation is highly unlikely to be feasible by 2050. It estimates that aviation emissions could be reduced by around just 20% through improvements to fuel efficiency, some use of low carbon fuels, and limiting demand growth. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “The Government must now commit to amending the Airports National Policy Statement in light of the climate emergency.”
Committee on Climate Change advice to the Government on aviation: it must be included in the UK net-zero target
The advice from the Government’s statutory advisors on climate issues, the CCC, to the Government, says it is important that the carbon emissions of international aviation and shipping (IAS) are formally included into the UK net-zero target. This needs to complement international action to reduce aviation carbon. The CCC letter, from its Chairman Lord Deben, says the aim should be for international aviation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and this should be reflected in the Government’s forthcoming Aviation Strategy . “It means reducing actual emissions in the IAS sectors” and the CCC considers this “is likely to require some use of greenhouse gas removals (GGRs) to offset remaining emissions.” The limit of 30 MtCO2 per year, by UK aviation, requires demand growth of no more than 25% compared to 2018. That would only be possible if there are significant improvements in aircraft efficiency, maybe 10% of low carbon fuels, and some increased flight charges. But the UK is aiming at net zero by 2050. The CCC says aviation will have to pay to capture some CO2 from the atmosphere, and that only offsets that actually remove CO2 – rather than trying to stop more being emitted, would be acceptable.
Committee on Climate Change advice to government on aviation: flying will have to become more expensive
In a letter to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC – the government’s statutory advisor) warns that flying will have to become more expensive, especially for frequent flyers, to avoid climate chaos and keep the UK within its carbon targets. The letter also warns that going ahead with a Heathrow 3rd runway would all but rule out airport expansion in the rest of the country. Demand for aviation will have to be reduced, in order that aviation carbon is kept under some degree of control, while the UK has a zero carbon target for 2050. Ways demand could be reduced might be increased APD, new levies on frequent flyers and changes to air taxation relative to rail and road. Aviation is likely to become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050. The CCC says the government “should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net zero. Specifically, investments will need to be demonstrated to make economic sense in a net-zero world…” In other words, does it make sense to build another Heathrow runway, when future demand for air travel will have to be limited. The CCC’s Chairman, Chris Stark said: “But it’s very important that the government is honest about aviation emissions.”