Bristol Airport says it will be UK’s first net zero airport – but Greens dismiss claim as ‘utter nonsense’

June 28, 2021

Bristol Airport has said it will become carbon neutral later this year by hitting targets it originally expected to reach in 2025 – setting it up to gain the title of the UK’s first net zero airport by 2030.

Bosses said three key commitments to be a net zero airfield, with net zero buildings and operating a net zero fleet of vehicles would enable it to take a leadership position in the industry and hit its deadline 20 years ahead of the government’s intended date. 

Airport CEO Dave Lees, pictured below, told a virtual gathering of regional business leaders this morning that the commitment was another milestone in looking towards the future showcasing how businesses in the region collaborating together using the latest technology and innovative solutions would meet decarbonisation targets.

“The aviation industry is taking its responsibilities seriously in addressing climate change challenges, working together to create the solutions now and in the future,” he told the event, which also looked at how Bristol and the West of England’s aerospace sector was addressing the issue, including its world-leading research into use of electric-powered air taxis and hydrogen-fuelled planes.

But the airport’s claims were immediately shot down by Bristol Green Party councillors, who described them as “utter nonsense and a cynical form of greenwashing.”

In a statement, the councillors said: “The airport’s ‘net zero’ claims do not extend to flights or car parking – the two main areas of businesses, enabling aeroplanes to take off and land and operating a large and expensive car park – so promoting itself as a ‘net zero airport’ is misleading. 

They said Bristol Airport’s expansion plan, which was rejected by North Somerset Council – a decision on which the airport is now appealing – would allow for an annual capacity of up to 12m passengers, something the Green Party says would emit an additional 1m tonnes of CO2 equivalents a year. 

Bristol Green councillor Carla Denyer said: “Of course any work to improve the airport’s climate targets are welcome, but to brand yourself as a ‘net zero airport’ without including flights, car parking or journeys to and from the airport is highly misleading.

“The environmental impact of aviation is well documented but is something they seem unwilling or unable to talk about.

“It’s not only the flights they seem to want to pretend aren’t happening, but also the car parking operation that remains central to their business model.

“An estimated 87% of passenger arrive at the airport by car and the airport profits massively from this – which is why they are so keen to concrete over green fields to grow this car parking operation.”

The Future of Flight business breakfast at the airport was attended in person by Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees and discussed harnessing the region’s innovation and strategic leadership and how best to get business collaborating to support the sector’s transition to net zero. 


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