Archived press release
Press & Media

Environmental campaigners will present managers at Bristol International Airport (BIA) with a `bill' for the environmental cost of aviation today (Thursday 19th May). The `bill' which is being presented by Friends of the Earth groups in the South West of England, warns the airport management that by increasing flights they will be increasing their contribution to climate change.

Friends of the Earth campaigners drew up the bill following comments from Andrew Skipp (Managing Director of BIA) in March when he said that: "Bristol International Airport is prepared to pay its environmental costs."

The bill shows BIA already causes more carbon dioxide to be emitted than all the cars in Bristol, or the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes for every Bristol resident. It would need a forest eight times bigger than Bristol to absorb this much carbon dioxide. Bristol Friends of the Earth is querying whether BIA. is really going to pay to fix this damage to the environment?

The airport has said that it is planning to double the number of passengers by 2020, which will mean a doubling of these climate damaging emissions. Bristol Friends of the Earth says this is madness when we are trying to reduce the effect we have on the climate.

Other current unpaid costs are increasing aircraft noise over a wider area and growing road traffic on the A38 and rural roads. Future costs will involve destruction of countryside by the construction of more roads to support traffic associated with the BIA expansion.

Jeremy Birch of Bristol Friends of the Earth said today

"The UK is committed to cutting its impact on the climate and uncontrolled airport expansion runs roughshod over this. We should be aiming to reduce our emissions. The airline industry should pay duty on aviation fuel and be forced to price journeys according to the cost to the planet"


[1] On 17th March 2005, Andrew Skipp (Managing Director of B.I.A) stated in the Bristol Evening Post that `Bristol International Airport is prepared to pay its environmental costs'.

[2] BIA causes 580,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to be emitted due to flights, estimated from the best available information.

[3] There are 165,000 cars in Bristol (National Statistics Office), each car drives on average 9830 miles per year (Department of Transport), emitting 171.4g/km (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trades) -giving a total of 445,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

[4] An acre of trees has been estimated to absorb (sequestrate) 2.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The carbon dioxide emitted by BIA flights would need 344 square miles of trees, and the area of Bristol is 42 square miles.

[5] BIA currently carries 4.5 million passengers and is planning to double this by 2020, and increase again to 12 million by 2030.

[6] Currently aviation fuel has no duty on it, there is no Vat on items connected with air travel and duty free continues for passengers outside of Europe. Overall, these measures mean the UK Government subsidises aviation to the tune of £9.2 billion a year. All of which helps export tourist money abroad, rather than it being spent at home.

[7] This action is being taken by Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire Friends of the Earth Groups.

[8] The Kyoto Protocol commits the UK to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 12.5% from 1990 levels by 2010. It is accepted by the UN scientific community that much deeper cuts of 60% are needed by 2050 to prevent dangerous climate change (over 2 degree C).

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


Published by Friends of the Earth Trust