Airlines face fines for excess emissions

The Environment Agency will have the power to fine UK airlines that fail to meet strict carbon emission levels.

The revelation follows the announcement by the UK government that the scheme to cap aviation emissions will be supervised in England and Wales by the Environment Agency (EA), supported by expert advice from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The EU emissions trading scheme (ETS),which already applies to many ground-based industries, caps net CO2 emissions from aviation at average 2004/06 levels. It will come into force for flights arriving and departing EU airports from 1 January 2012 and means that businesses must buy allowances from other sectors to cover any emissions above their allotted cap, providing a financial incentive for greener aviation.

As regulator, the EA will ensure that operators monitor their emissions appropriately in the lead-up to the start of the scheme and will be tasked with ensuring that operators comply with the requirements of the scheme. It will have the power to issue fines to operators that do not comply. 

In January it was announced that the EA and the CAA have also been tasked with ensuring that expansion at Heathrow Airport is achieved within strict noise and air quality limits.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said: "We know that people want to fly and it would be wrong to deny them the great social and economic benefits that aviation brings. Our challenge is to balance that demand with aviation's environmental impacts. Emissions trading is key to meeting that challenge.

"The UK lobbied hard to get aviation included in the EU ETS. Now we must demonstrate to the rest of the world that the scheme is an effective means of capping aviation CO2 emissions so that we can progress towards a similar global arrangement."

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