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About the AEF

Image Credit: Runways UK 2014
AEF Director, Tim Johnson, speaking to an audience of policy makers and industry. Image Credit: Runways UK 2014

The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is the principal UK NGO campaigning exclusively on the environmental impacts of aviation and promoting a sustainable future for the sector. We formed as a federation in 1975 at a time when the sector was beginning to grow rapidly and noise was becoming an issue around airfields and airports. As aviation is exempt from noise nuisance legislation our members sought action to influence the national policy level.

AEF continues to focus on policy change but our work now extends beyond national policies to influencing European and global policy makers. Aviation has environmental, social and economic impacts and so despite being an organisation that is small in size, our work covers issues ranging from local air quality to global climate change, and from local participation in an airport consultative committee to the overall national economic impact of a new runway.

AEF’s aim is:

To protect the environment, public health and quality of life through securing policies and measures that ensure effective limits on noise, emissions and other environmental impacts from the aviation sector.

To further this aim, our objectives are:

  • to seek effective legislation, policies and other measures by working with local, national and international policy-making and legislative bodies
  • to promote practical solutions through consultation and co-operation with AEF members, regulatory and public bodies, the aviation industry, and others
  • to support our members and affected communities in liaising with decision-makers and other stakeholders
  • to provide advice, analysis and information
  • to publicise and promote the role and responsibilities of the Federation

Who we are

Our Team

FullSizeRender (1)Tim Johnson


Tim has worked with the Federation for over 25 years, having joined in 1989 with a degree majoring in geography and transport planning. Having been responsible initially for planning and research tasks, he became Director in 1997 following the retirement of the AEF’s founder Moyra Logan.

Tim provides AEF’s representation at the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as well as on the Department for Transport’s External Advisory Group. On behalf of the environmental NGO coalition ICSA (the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation), Tim plays an active role in ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection where he chairs ICAO’s carbon calculator task force and is co-lead on tasks related to the development of a global market-based measure. Tim previously chaired the advisory panel of the UK industry’s Sustainable Aviation initiative. In 2014, Tim was presented with the Royal Aeronautical Society Green by Design award for his work to move the environmental aviation debate in a very challenging landscape of conflicting interests and social, political, commercial and technical challenges.

Tim spent a year working with Defra on aviation issues, a role that left him with some sympathy for the policy-makers we try to influence today.

Cait HewittCait Hewitt

Deputy Director

With ten years’ experience at AEF, Cait leads the organisation’s UK work programme and campaigns. She has expertise in climate change, noise and air quality issues, particularly in relation to airport expansion and ​airspace change policy.

Cait has given oral evidence to the parliamentary Transport Committee, Environmental Audit Committee and the Civil Aviation Bill Committee, as well as to the Airports Commission and the London Assembly Transport Committee. She has presented at events organised by the Institute for Air Quality Management, the Institute of Civil Engineering, ENDS Europe, and the Westminster Energy Environment and Transport Forum, and has given media interviews on the BBC’s News channel, Ten o’clock News, and Radio 4’s Today Programme.

She has a First Class degree in sociology and an M.A. with Distinction in environmental philosophy, in which her dissertation focussed on the social justice implications of climate change.

Lizzie Harrocks

Communications Officer 

Lizzie joined us as Communications Officer in January 2017. She has a degree in modern foreign languages and volunteered with a range of charities over the course of her degree. She found a particular interest in the impact of globalisation on human health through her work with sustainable development charity, Raleigh International.

Before joining us, Lizzie worked in communications for student listening and information service, Nightline, as well as as copywriter for gender-equality charity, Act4Africa. She uses her experience to manage our external communications and media.

Deborah Lovatt

Community Outreach Manager and Membership Officer

Deborah joined AEF in 2016 in a new role designed both to strengthen our relationship with existing members and to seek the views of communities outside our membership who are affected by aviation. Formerly an Associate Lecturer for the Open University, Deborah has a PhD and a Graduate Diploma in Law. She has extensive experience of working for advice-giving charities, and a strong interest in environmental campaigning and in engaging with the planning system, both as a member of the public, and for environmental charities.

Deborah works with AEF part time, alongside delivery of training for Citizens Advice, including in campaigning skills.

tim thomasTim Thomas

Office and Financial Administrator

Tim has been involved with AEF for over 30 years, initially through his local Kent parish council’s AEF membership, following its involvement in a General Aviation airfield planning appeal. He was elected to the AEF executive council in the 1990s, serving as Treasurer (a position he still holds today), and he has since supported AEF on a part-time, voluntary basis in a number of roles, including providing support and advice for members on General Aviation issues.

Linked to his role as Treasurer, Tim now acts as AEF’s Office and Financial Administrator. He also represents AEF at the CAA’s National Air Traffic Management Committee.

nic ferridayNic Ferriday


Since his early retirement, Nic has devoted his time to a number of environmental campaigns. Living in West London, he took an active interest in the biggest environmental issue in the area and the biggest polluter – Heathrow – and represented Friends of the Earth at the lengthy Heathrow Terminal 5 public inquiry, dealing with aviation policy, air pollution, surface transport, economics, ecology and air pollution. The knowledge and interest gained there led to him joining AEF in a part-time, voluntary capacity and he has since supported our work across a number of areas. Nic is also a long-standing member of the AEF’s Executive Council.

A particular concern of his, arising from many years of dealing with councils and central government, is the systematic use of spin, bias and misinformation from politicians and from the officials who support them.

Executive Council

AEF’s work is overseen by an Executive Council that meets every two months and is made up of AEF members elected annually at our AGM.  Our council members come from a range of backgrounds – including business, finance, education and the civil service – and play an active part in our day-to-day activities. Council members serve in an advisory capacity and help to ensure that the voice of the membership is taken into account in AEF positions. At the same time, many Council members are also active on behalf of other organisations whose views may not necessarily reflect AEF policy.

Currently serving members are:

  • Richard Roads (chair)
  • Geoff Marks
  • Hugh Sheppard
  • Debbie Bryce
  • Rachael Webb
  • Nic Ferriday
  • Tim Thomas

How we work

AEF sets out to engage about all the issues we work on. Our rigorous approach and willingness to talk cooperatively have led to our being invited to represent our members at all levels of the policy-making process. In the UK, we have regular contact with Government departments addressing transport and environment policy and in 2010 acted as the sole representative of community and environmental interests on the Government’s South East Airports Taskforce.

In recent years we have been called to give oral evidence to the Airports Commission, the parliamentary committee for the Civil Aviation Act, the Transport Committee, and the Environmental Audit Committee, and we provide a critical voice to the industry coalition Sustainable Aviation and to airports regulator the CAA through their expert advisory committees. Internationally, we are a lead member of the environmental umbrella body ICSA, which participates in work by the UN aviation body ICAO on environmental impacts, particularly climate change.

AEF also provides information, advice and analysis in relation to aviation’s environmental impacts to our members, the public, the media, and other environmental and community organisations. We regularly coordinate policy work by other green NGOs and we provide administrative support for the Airportwatch network of environmental organisations and community groups.

What we have achieved

Over the years our work has helped to shift aviation policy on a range of fronts, and the sector’s environmental impacts are now taken more seriously in UK airports policy than perhaps anywhere else in the world.  We have always argued that aviation issues should be considered within a framework of environmental objectives and limits. Aviation’s inclusion in the UK Climate Act 2008 has helped to drive forward this approach in relation to emissions, while the noise impacts of possible airport expansion have become a key consideration in political party positions.

  • We said that the Government’s official threshold for significant annoyance arising from aircraft noise (57 dB Leq) was out of step with reality. In 2007, a Government study confirmed this feedback from our members, and said the threshold needed lowering. In 2013, the Airports Commission committed to using a range of metrics to asses noise impacts from a new runway
  • We told the UN’s aviation body ICAO that action was needed on aviation emissions. In 2010, ICAO adopted a number of targets to improve fuel efficiency annually and to ensure that there is no net increase in emissions from international civil aviation after 2020. To help achieve this, ICAO is working towards a decision, in 2016, on a global market-based measure
  • We said that aviation must be part of the UK Climate Act which was set to omit the sector altogether. The Act, which was passed in 2008, requires aviation emissions to be taken into account, and in 2009 the Government introduced an aviation emissions cap as a means of delivering this. Though not an official target, the aviation cap continues to be used in policy discussions on future aviation UK emissions by the Committee on Climate Change and the Airports Commission
  • We called on policymakers to avoid exaggerating the economic benefits of aviation and to acknowledge the sector’s tax breaks. In 2008 the UK Treasury admitted that were aviation to be charged VAT and fuel tax at the same rate as road users this would generate £10 billion annually – a significant effective subsidy. In 2013, in the face of fierce lobbying by the aviation industry for Air Passenger Duty to be scrapped, it was in fact extended to cover business jets
  • We called for tougher noise and pollution standards for aircraft. Noise standards have become progressively more stringent, and in 2010 the UN body ICAO agreed to increase the stringency of NOx standards for new aircraft by 15%
  • We said that the 2003 Airports White Paper, recommending new runways at Heathrow and Stansted as well as one in Scotland, was inconsistent with environmental objectives. In 2013 the policy was officially scrapped and its successor, the Aviation Policy Framework, makes no runway recommendations

Annual Report

Our latest Annual Report for 2018 is available here.

How we’re funded

AEF is independent from both Government and industry, being funded through our membership, together with donations from individuals and charitable trusts. Read here about how you could support our work.