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Stansted Airport takes lead in drive to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Stansted Airport is at the forefront of an aviation industry pledge to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

The hub's corporate social responsibility director, Neil Robinson, is chairman of the UK Sustainable Aviation coalition, which has made the commitment.

A report called Decarbonisation Road-Map: A Path to Net Zero sets out exactly where reductions can come from, including smarter flight operations, new aircraft and engine technology, modernising UK airspace, and sustainable aviation fuels.

Stansted Airport. (28336848)
Stansted Airport. (28336848)

The coalition believes these measures mean the UK will be able to grow passenger numbers by 70% – in line with current projections – while reducing net emissions from 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year today down to zero.

Mr Robinson said: "Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world. We know aviation emissions will increase if decisive action is not taken, and that's why UK aviation today commits to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, through an international approach, working with governments around the world and through the UN.

"The UK is well positioned to become one of the leaders in the green technologies of the future, including sustainable aviation fuels and electric flight, creating highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in the process, and we look forward to working in partnership with ministers to help realise these opportunities."

New flight to Turkey from Stansted Airport (28336853)
New flight to Turkey from Stansted Airport (28336853)

A Sustainable Aviation Fuels Road-Map has been released alongside the Decarbonisation Road Map, which identifies the specific role aviation fuels could play in meeting this commitment. It forecasts that the UK could become a world leader in developing sustainable aviation fuels, which could meet 32% of the nation's demand for aviation fuel by 2050.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "The fight against climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the modern world, but the aviation sector's commitment today is a huge step forward in creating a greener future.

"Aviation has a crucial role to play in reducing carbon emissions, and with the help of new technologies, renewable fuels and our continued international co-operation through the UN agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, we'll be able to strike that balance, creating a greener and cleaner future."

Last month Uttlesford District Council refused to sign off planning permission for Stansted Airport to grow from a maximum of 35 million passengers a year to 43m, citing climate change concerns, despite advice from its officers and independent barristers that the agreement was sound.

Since the application was first approved in November 2018, when the Conservatives ran the council, Uttlesford has spent £101,517 on legal fees.

The council's Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) administration, which took control in the May 2019 local elections, is awaiting a further bill in respect of legal advice provided to the planning committee meeting on January 24, while the prospect of a costly appeal by Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is looming.

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