‘Grotesque’: Farnborough Airport faces backlash over expansion plans

Farnborough Airport is facing backlash from environmental campaigners over plans to expand its operations by 20,000 more flights each year.

Based in Hampshire in the UK, the airport is an operational business and executive general aviation airport. Under new proposals, it plans to increase the number of flights from 50,000 to 70,000 a year.

It also plans to increase weekend and bank holiday flights from 8,900 to 18,000, expand the number of hours it can operate on weekends (from 8am-8pm to 7am-9pm) and raise the restricted aircraft weight category (from 50-80 tonnes to 55-80 tonnes)  which would allow heavier aircraft to operate without restriction.

Farnborough argues the expansion is necessary in order to keep up with demand by 2040. But climate activists have slammed the plans as “grotesque” and “outrageously irresponsible”.

Alethea Warrington is an activist for the climate charity Possible. She criticised the airport’s plans, and campaigns for more action to be taken against private jets.

She said: “It is completely outrageous that they are trying to do this. We’re in the middle of a climate crisis.

“Private jets are incredibly high polluting, incredibly wasteful. They are just such a ridiculously carbon-intensive form of transport.

“Possible is calling for a ban on them to be brought in as quickly as possible, and before then a much, much higher tax levied on them.

“They are virtually untaxed at the moment and it is completely, outrageously irresponsible in this stage of climate crisis that they’re trying to have even more of the most grotesquely wasteful form of transport that can be imagined.”

Aviation campaign group Safe Landing added that “polluting private jets catering to a handful of wealthy super-emitters” should be curtailed.

But the airport’s boss has defended the plans by arguing for the economic benefit that expansion could bring.

Simon Geere, chief executive of Farnborough Airport, said: “We of course recognise there needs to be a balance between the economic benefit of our operations and the environmental impact, that is why we work so hard on our sustainability agenda.

“As part of the consultation process, we are also proposing some significant enhancements to our existing community funding programme, including the launch of a new sustainability fund.”

He added that the airport is a “significant catalyst for economic growth” and that it is a “major employment generator [that supports] more than 3,000” jobs.

The chief executive said Farnborough’s expansion would safeguard more than 4,000 jobs and generate £470m of gross value added every year.

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