• Government will reject CCC’s advice to halt airport expansions
• Aim to boost global links and grow economy
• Environmental groups to cite CCC advice in legal challenges
Rishi Sunak’s government has decided to ignore expert advice from the Climate Change Committee to halt airport expansions in order to fight climate change. This move comes amidst a growing backlash from Tory MPs over the cost of the Government’s climate policies.
Ministers believe airport growth will have a key role in boosting the U.K.’s global links and helping to grow the economy, and Bristol and Southampton airports are among those preparing to significantly expand their capacity. Meanwhile, other cities around the world are building new international airports and considering major expansions.
Rejecting the CCC’s recommendations could lead to a major legal clash with environmental groups. Greenpeace, in particular, is planning to cite the committee’s latest recommendation in legal challenges against airport expansions.
The Government has expressed their support for airport expansion if it can be done in a sustainable way, and the focus is now on the development of green aviation fuels. A proposed legal duty on the Government to draw up plans to subsidise sustainable aviation fuels will be unveiled this week.
The Government’s approach has put pressure on Labour to take a position on the issue.
Rishi Sunak’s Government has decided to ignore expert advice to halt airport expansions as a way to fight climate change, setting the stage for legal battles with environmental groups. The Telegraph has the story
In one of the most significant moves yet of the Prime Minister’s shift to approaching Net Zero in a “proportionate and pragmatic” way, the Government will reject the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) formal advice that all airport expansions must be halted.
The move comes days after Mr. Sunak appointed Claire Coutinho, one of his closest political allies, as Net Zero Secretary, amid a growing backlash among Tory MPs over the Government’s climate policies and the cost they are adding to consumer bills.
Ministers believe airport growth will have a ‘key role’ in boosting the U.K.’s global links and helping to grow the economy.
Bristol and Southampton airports are among those preparing to significantly expand their capacity after legal challenges against their expansions failed, while London’s Gatwick, City and Heathrow airports are also hoping to embark on major expansion projects.
Elsewhere in the world, new international airports are being built in cities such as Mumbai, while major expansions are under consideration in Dubai and Sydney.
The CCC was set up by the 2008 Climate Change Act to hold the Government to account over its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, with its most recent five-year “carbon budget” put into law by Boris Johnson in 2021.
Rejecting its recommendations would set the Government up for a major legal clash with environmental groups. Last year, a High Court judgment said that “considerable weight” should be given to the CCC’s advice. Groups such as Greenpeace are planning to cite the committee’s latest recommendation in legal challenges against further airport expansions.
But a Department for Transport spokesman told the Telegraph: “Airport growth, and the aviation sector as a whole, has a key role to play in boosting our global connectivity and helping grow the economy. We remain supportive of airport expansion where it can be delivered in a sustainable way.”
Ministers are putting their hope in the rapid development of green aviation fuels to decarbonise the sector. This week, Ms. Coutinho will unveil a proposed legal duty on the Government to draw up plans to subsidise so-called sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
The Government’s approach will heap pressure on Labour to take a position on the issue.
Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, told the Telegraph last week that she would do “whatever it takes” to attract investment to Britain.
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