Airlines to reveal their impact on environment

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The Independent Online

People booking a flight will be able to assess the damage to the environment as well as to their wallet under plans announced by the industry.

People booking a flight will be able to assess the damage to the environment as well as to their wallet under plans announced by the industry.

Travellers will be given the price of a ticket as well as information about the amount of fuel used and the noxious gases emitted by individual airlines on specific routes. And Third World carriers which use dirty antiquated aircraft could be banned from flying to Britain under the strategy revealed by airlines, airports, aircraft manufacturers and National Air Traffic Services.

The unprecedented campaign commits the United Kingdom to cleaning up the industry's act over the next 15 years.

The "sustainable aviation" initiative aims to set up a regular monitoring system to report on progress towards specific goals.

While industry leaders launching the scheme in central London yesterday emphasised that aviation wanted to become more "environment-friendly", it was also clear that it was a campaign to ensure that aviation fuel remained exempt from taxation.

It is also aimed at ensuring that the planned third runway at Heathrow is built and that it will not fall foul of European legislation on pollution.

The specific targets include improving fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions of new aircraft by 50 per cent per seat kilometre by 2020 compared with levels in 2000. The industry believes that would have a significant impact on climate change.

Another major objective is to improve air quality by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 per cent over the same period.

The "perceived external noise" of new aircraft would also be reduced by half by 2020.

There should also be a common system for reporting carbon dioxide emissions and fleet fuel efficiency by the end of this year. Industry leaders will also press for aviation's inclusion in the European Union emissions trading scheme at the earliest date. That would mean aviation could only exceed prescribed pollution levels if it could demonstrate that another industry was under-shooting its targets by the same amount.

The strategy also said that airport plans should be drawn up on noise limitation and restrictions to landing and take-off.

Roger Wiltshire, chairman of the steering group which produced the strategy, said the initiative was the culmination of 12 months' work which had been strongly endorsed by the Government. It was conceded that despite the industry's enthusiasm for cutting back on fuel consumption, the increase in air travel over the next 20 years meant that more energy would be consumed.

John Stewart, chairman of Hacan ClearSkies, which campaigns against expansion at Heathrow, said the group had come up with some "very fine ideas" but there was no clear indication of how the objectives would be met.

"The document is full of green language together with supportive noises from Tony Blair, but there were no firm plans on how the targets would be met. They want to keep fuel taxation and increased regulations off the agenda and keep the road clear for expansion at Heathrow."

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