Southampton Airport group launch ‘sustainability strategy’

Derek Provan (L) CE of AGS Airports launches new sustainability strategy with MSP Graeme Day

The owners of Southampton Airport, AGS Airports, have announced a commitment to achieving net zero direct emissions by the mid 2030s as part of a new sustainability strategy.

AGS Airports, which also owns Aberdeen International and Glasgow airports, say they achieved carbon neutrality status in 2020 and that the group has now set a roadmap for its transition to net zero which will involve the decarbonisation of AGS’ infrastructure.

The strategy, sets commitments against a wide range of issues including decarbonisation, biodiversity, modern slavery, circular economy, community support and how it will support its people.

Commitments are wide ranging and include:

  • Supporting the continued development of Sustainable Aviation’s Decarbonisation roadmap including the promotion of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, hydrogen and electric flight.
  • Transitioning its fleet of vehicles to ultra-low emission vehicles and continuing the roll-out of electric charging infrastructure
  • investing in community funds which have awarded over £2 million to local community groups and charitable organisations since 2010.
  • Working with partners, including the NHS, to trial the UK’s first medical drone distribution network.

“More work to do”

Derek Provan, Chief Executive of AGS Airports, said in a press release:

 “At AGS we have always been acutely aware that operating such important pieces of infrastructure comes with responsibilities; to our people, to our communities and to the environment.

“We have made significant progress in addressing our own environmental impacts however, we recognise there is more work to do. In 2020 we became carbon neutral which is an important first step towards our ultimate goal of achieving net zero carbon for our direct emissions by the mid-2030s. Whilst this is a central pillar of our strategy, our sustainability commitments go beyond the decarbonisation of AGS. We want to create shared value and ensure our communities can share in our success as we seek to rebuild.”

Last month Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead who is also Labour’s Shadow Minister for Energy said he welcomed ‘a change in stance’ in the airport’s approach to its development plans that could possibly lead to a more sustainable future for the airport in a era of low carbon flying.

Airports facing Climate Change challenges

Southampton Airport’s development plans of course include a 164 metre extension to the runway and local environment campaigners have already raised more than £10,000 towards a Judicial Review of Eastleigh Borough Council’s decision to grant the Airport planning permission.

Southampton Airport Expansion Opposition group AXO say the social and economic benefits of further airport development have been overstated and overshadowed by the environmental impact while a recent report by the New Economics Foundation think tank cast doubts on the Airport’s projected emissions data, instead claiming that the expansion plan is likely to result in an increase of up to 654,000 tonnes of CO2 and CO2-equivalent emissions a year by 2035.

The announcement by AGS comes a critical time for the UK’s Aviation sector as it struggles to cope with a collapse in passenger numbers due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and the pressure to meet looming Government climate change targets.