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The BBC's Tom Symonds
"Luton's passengers gave a very mixed reception"
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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Airport passengers go 'green'
Passengers checking in at the airport
Passengers are being alerted to environmental responsibilities
Luton is to become the first airport in Britain to encourage passengers to pay for the environmental cost of their flights.

Money raised from voluntary donations will be used to buy trees to absorb carbon dioxide produced by aircraft.

Environmental groups have dismissed the scheme as a confidence trick designed to excuse damaging pollution.

But the airport believes it will alert customers to the environmental cost of air travel.

They want passengers to pay 0.2p per mile, which would amount to 69p on a short trip to Edinburgh, but several pounds on most of the key European routes.

Proceeds from the donations will pay for trees to be planted in the Luton area to absorb carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft.

Air pollution

The airport's environmental director, Dr Mark McLellan, said: "Aviation is currently a small, but the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions and what the industry is looking to do is to put its hand up for that.

"The intention here is that aviation should look to its contribution, small but growing though it is, and figure out ways of dealing with that problem."

Trees: fighting global warming
Luton Airport may be the first organisation within the airline industry to take this initiative, but both British Telecom and the car firm Avis have signed up to the concept within their respective business fields.

Future Forests, the company which will carry out the tree planting for the airport, believes all air passengers should be aware of the pollution implications of aviation fuel.

Chief executive Jonathan Shopley said: "The magnitude of carbon emissions from the aviation industry is too large to plant our way out of. Trees can't save this issue.

"But if we are going to get to grips with global warming, trees are the most effective way of dealing with it."


Environmentalists are sceptical of the new approach, saying small local schemes to plant trees will have no impact on global warming.

Friends of the Earth say they would rather see airline passengers give up their flights and whenever possible, take the train instead.

Jeff Gazzard of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) also questioned how effective the scheme would be.

"The trouble with offsetting carbon output is that it doesn't quite work like that," he said.

"The odd tree does not soak up your CO2. The problem is that CO2 is just one of the emissions that comes out of the back of an aircraft and it is only 30 percent of the problem."

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24 Aug 98 | The Company File
Millions invested in 'paradise' airport
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