Green Growth Only?

This month Luton Borough Council (LBC) announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer for its airport company, London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL).

At a time when service budgets and jobs are being severely culled by LBC due to a loss in airport income, it is reassuring to see that money has been found to pay the salary of this new appointment, and to appoint his successor as Chief Strategy Officer one would assume?  

For the last data published in 2019 on LBC pay bands, the CEO pay band was £180-£196,000 per annum.  For a Corporate Director reporting to the CEO, salary ranges were £123-£134,000 per annum.  For a Service Director, who reports to the Corporate Director, salaries are £81-88,000 per annum.  Whichever band this post falls in, it’s an extremely lucrative post bearing in mind it heads up the Council Department which has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on the purely speculative projects mentioned, which to the lay observer will bring no direct income benefit to the shareholders of the airport, the town’s residents.

The new CEO speaks in gushing terms “I am quite clear that all future growth at London Luton Airport must be green growth. This must look at the whole picture, going beyond delivering improvements aimed at decarbonising the operation of our airport, and taking a systemic approach that puts climate change, air quality, noise impacts and integrated public transport at the heart of the story.”

Let us now look at a report due for publication this month from the UK’s Climate Change Committee. This is the Sixth Carbon Budget, it is required under the Climate Change Act to provide Government Ministers with advice on the volume of Greenhouse Gasses that the UK can emit from 2033-2037. It is divided up into all the categories of Carbon emissions. Chapter 8 deals with Aviation and Shipping. To download the full report, its methodology and the policy recommendations, use this link;

Sixth Carbon Budget

On Page 162 of the policy report you will find Table P8.1, Bullet point 4 states:-

• There should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory and can accommodate the additional demand.

If – as LLAL’s new CEO states – “it will be green growth only”, how can he square that with this recommendation, based on the track record of LLAL?

 As mentioned in a previous article, the airport itself feels it can only directly control 4% of its current carbon emissions; the other 96% are all aircraft or access traffic emissions.  How can double the flights and passenger vehicle traffic be “green growth”?

Then of course you have the huge carbon footprint of the actual development, i.e. concrete production and the excavation and release of greenhouse gases from the land fill site.  The report says that airports must work to control their emissions. As we’ve mentioned before, at Luton the airport operator’s sole aim is to increase flights to return its shareholders investments as quickly as possible – whilst the owner wants the same, to generate cash to service its mountain of debts on airport projects. Expecting either to heed advice on controlling emissions ahead of profit is a recipe for disaster as their track record on keeping to aircraft noise conditions clearly shows.

Whilst we hold out the hope that these recommendations from The Climate Change Committee will be listened to by Government, and all airport expansion in the UK stopped until Carbon and all the other harmful emissions (from the whole gamut of aviation) are actually a thing of the past and replaced by the renewable and pollution free options the report details. Sadly we can’t see the highly paid public servants of LLAL or LBC listening to a word of it, as they and their phalanx of even more expensive consultants know better than the finest minds of the Climate Change Committee, and of course without airport expansion they will have no lucrative jobs either.

Stop Luton Airport Expansion

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