Environmental Audit Committee

16 December 2003 The Aviation White Paper

16 December 2003 The Aviation White Paper


The Government today published its Aviation White Paper, along with formal responses to two House of Commons Select Committee reports on aviation - one from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) and one from the Transport Committee.

Commenting on the Government response, the Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, Peter Ainsworth MP, said today:

"It is deeply disappointing that the Government has failed to take on board the serious concerns we raised about the environmental impact of the forecast growth in aviation.  The Government's only response is to press for the inclusion of aviation within the EU Emissions Trading System - but this could not take place until 2008 at the earliest and the White Paper contains nothing else.     The Secretary of State has not even taken the opportunity to raise Air Passenger Duty - which would at least have provided a signal of his commitment.  I find it extraordinary that he has finally accepted the need for road charging in order to constrain demand, yet refuses to acknowledge the need for a similar approach in the case of air transport." 

"We also have concerns about some specific aspects of the Government's response - in particular the accuracy of figures for the economic costs and benefits of expansion option - and we intend to pursue these issues with the Department."

The EAC published its report on aviation in July 2003.   One of its main findings was that, if account is taken of radiative forcing, aviation emissions would increase by 2030 to 200 million tonnes of CO2 per annum - over 90% of the UK's total carbon target for 2050 which was set in the Energy White Paper.  It also calculated that the environmental costs of aviation which the Treasury had identified amounted to over £18 billion in terms of net present costs; and argued that this wiped out the economic benefits of even the largest expansion options in the South-East which the Department for Transport had included in its airports consultation.  

Notes for Editors

The Committee's report on aviation, Budget 2003 and Aviation, can be found on its website:

The Government response has been published today as a Command Paper (Cm 6063).