5th May, 2010
The eruption of the Icelandic volcano and subsequent grounding of flights across Europe provided a rare glimpse of what life might be like without the noise, pollution and emissions otherwise generated 365 days a year from flying. Academics at Kings College London tested air pollution at Gatwick and Heathrow during the shutdown and found dramatic improvements in air quality. At Heathrow, where the EU’s limit for safe levels of NO2 is frequently breached, concentrations dropped from 27 µg m-3 to 8 µg m-3 during the closure period. And internet chat rooms were full of conversations (among people taking a break from listening to birdsong in their gardens) about how the shutdown had reminded them just how much noise they put up with on a daily basis.
AEF made an early estimate of the amount of aviation CO2 that had been saved as a result of grounded aircraft, which appeared on the front page of the Times and subsequently in numerous other news outlets, and we also appeared on Al Jazeera to comment on the environmental benefits of the closure.
In other news, during the past two weeks, Tim took part in an advisory group meeting for Project Icarus, which was set up by the Institute of Travel and Meetings to help companies reduce CO2 emissions from their travel and now has a number of large organisations signed up including the BBC, KPMG and Accenture. And Cait has been in touch both with the European Commission and with Defra about our continuing campaign to ensure that airport noise action plans meet legal requirements.
We’ve also published the latest edition of our members’ newsletter, Flying Green, with articles on challenging assumptions about arrival noise, using the law in campaigning, and carbon neutral airports. And we’ve handled queries about links between the aviation industry and oil companies in Scotland, the impact of the Iceland volcano on airlines’ participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the environmental impacts of proposed expansion at Kent International Airport, and low flying aircraft near East Midlands Airport.