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Airport's carbon neutral pledge 'greenwash'

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: August 15, 2009

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A FAST-GROWING Westcountry airport has pledged to make its operations "carbon neutral" by next year – but officials were immediately accused of a "greenwash".

Cornwall Council intends to offset carbon emissions generated by terminal and airfield operations at Newquay airport by improving energy efficiency in Cornish homes and investing in renewable energy projects in developing countries.

The "carbon neutral" goal does not include offsetting emissions from the growing number of flights that take off and land at the Westcountry's second biggest airport. It handles around 350,000 passengers a year.

Environmentalists say air travel is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.

Cornwall Council, which is working with the Eden Project on the scheme, said it originally planned to offset emissions in five years' time.

The council says Newquay is the first in the country to introduce an offsetting scheme of this nature.

Carolyn Rule, Cabinet member for the economy, said: "By making the airport's operations carbon neutral five years ahead of schedule we are demonstrating our intention to develop the airport sustainability and providing a model for other airports in the UK and Europe to follow."

The airport says it carefully monitors the carbon footprint of its operations and has a range of ongoing projects to reduce its carbon emissions. But it could not say how big its carbon footprint was or how much offsetting would cost.

Bob Egerton, Cornwall councillor for Probus, accused the council of "greenwash", the term for initiatives which are spun to look environmentally-friendly, and the project as a "dishonest venture".

He said the airport is already operating at a deficit that will require a subsidy from the Cornish council taxpayer of £5 million this year.

Coun Egerton said: "I fully support the idea of Cornwall Council funding the insulation of homes in the county. What is wrong is to suggest that this funding will be derived from the operation of the airport. The money will come from the taxpayer.

"Transferring the taxpayers' money via the airport is just a piece of deliberate greenwash. I am disappointed that good environmental organisations such as Eden and Community Energy Plus have allowed their names to be associated with such a dishonest venture."

As part of the programme, the airport will provide top-up funding for government grants so around 50 Cornish households will be insulated for free next year. The insulation scheme is managed by Community Energy Plus (CEP), which tackles fuel poverty and climate change.

The Eden Project's Climate Fund invests in certified carbon reduction projects around the world and education and other projects which "will contribute to a low carbon future for all of us". Eden works with consultants Climate Care, which advises organisations on offsetting.

Mark Beeley, Eden retail director, said: "We're really happy to be supporting Newquay Airport in this venture which goes way beyond what they have to do environmentally.

"If it is successful it could pave the way for many more local offsetting schemes, bringing direct benefits to many British households."

The offsetting plan has been devised with assistance from Low Carbon Cornwall, based at the newly formed, council-owned Cornwall Development Company.

Tim German, head of Low Carbon Cornwall, said: "This is a positive step towards the development of a carbon trading system to support sustainable investment in Cornwall's businesses and communities."

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    James, London  |  September 01 2009, 8:19AM

    Why is this greenwash? So Newquay Airport has a campaign to reduce its own emissions and offset the rest (and yes, offsetting does work - I suggest Alan actually goes and visits an offsetting project - perhaps he would like to list the one(s) that he has visited!). Look climate change is real, its happening and we need to do something about it. Furthermore the airport by initiating its own energy and carbon saving projects will be saving money and generating a return in environmental and cost terms. Wouldn't it be great if every business followed suit.

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    John, Penzance  |  August 17 2009, 12:38PM

    Although we might have to subsidise the airport, at least it is providing some decent transport options in and out of the county, unlike our rail and bus operators. Perhaps Bob Egerton could also inform us of how much more we will pay (in fines or broken contract compensation) if the Council don't get a viable alternative to the Energy from Waste plant they turned down, (despite it being agreed as part of Cornwall's waste management strategy) and that will be well over the £17m they promised they would save us with a Unitary Authority. And talking of greenwash, I usually find that those who shout loudest on this are the ones who drive older vehicles churning out fumes (rather like our public transport services) and take holidays by plane or car, but just don't like to admit to it. Wouldn't it be great if we could all be green living perfectionists, but to survive and earn a living, it's impossible so let's at least show some willing that it is part of a plan and look at our own carbon footprints.. PS Who'e going to tell all the emmets that we don't want their carbon footprints all over our nice beaches and countryside every year? Ah well there goes our economy

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    Justin, Cornwall  |  August 17 2009, 11:46AM

    Carbon taxes and the global warming swindle is just part of a green tyranny that won't be supportive of the enviroment, more the people who designed the carbon tax initiatives in the first place, the banksters and the globalists. The green movement is the new world religion, replacing all other belief structures. Just the idea of taxing the very air we, and all life feeds from is repulsive and immoral. It's just a con trick, that's all.

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    Theo H, Lifton  |  August 17 2009, 9:00AM

    B Jenkins wrote: "If anything, it is logical to suggest that temperature increasing causes the carbon to rise and not the reverse." It's chicken and egg here. Carbon dioxide both causes temperature rises and is caused by temperature rises. For example, soils of places like Dartmoor will release their stored carbon dioxide when the temperature rises, causing a feedback loop that will then cause even more carbon dioxide to be released. But you are assuming only carbon dioxide causes warming. Other things can cause warming, such as changes in the earth's tilt. Then the CO2 feedback kicks in and amplifies things. This has always been considered by climate scientists.

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    Gordon Burns, Falmouth  |  August 16 2009, 8:06PM

    This is complete Greenwash no reduction in carbon from the airport at all just a diverting of subsidy . Complete nonsense and an insult to the intelligence of all of us to claim there is any environmental gain at all. This is exactly the sort of action that does real damage to the credibility of those of us who do care about pragmatic real answers.

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    Liz Thompson, St. Ives  |  August 16 2009, 7:17PM

    Such a scheme is just another lunatic waste of our money that the Cornish council has decided to do and over which we have even less control now there is just the one council. The ''greenest'' thing would be to close the airport and spend the money on improving local public transport.Or stop treating us like idiots and drop the pretence at 'greening' when they want to spend money on airports.

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    Bill, PZ  |  August 16 2009, 1:24PM

    We already have an "Airport Development Tax" at NQY - how long before we also will have to pay a "Carbon Offsetting Tax" as well?

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    B Jenkins, Truro  |  August 16 2009, 11:49AM

    Laudable effort, if carbon had been proved to cause global warming. Unfortunately the ice core samples taken to support this theory showed that temperatures rose and eighty years afterwards so did carbon! If anything, it is logical to suggest that temperature increasing causes the carbon to rise and not the reverse.

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    Peter Tamblin, Padstow  |  August 16 2009, 11:21AM

    Greenwash is most certainly is. There's no such real animal as a Carbon Offset, you either produce the carbon or you don't. More to the point is the good Councillor's comment that Newquat Airport will require an annual subsidy of 5 million pounds per year, just to stand still, at minimum. It seems that whilst the glow of "haven't we done well with the airport" is still us, the true financial realities have been sent to the back of the room.

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    max power, st austell  |  August 16 2009, 9:33AM

    Another story from the pen of Enid Blyton... propaganda for the beleaguered tax payer almost on a par with Eden's other bedfellow, EDF, a french power company sporting a green union jack(!) who wants to appear as green as they wished we were! I can smell copious ammounts of Euro cash and tax payers money as the vultures circle Cornwall