TAG Farnborough says that the recent award of carbon-neutral status proves that it is serious about its environmental credentials, as it looks to mitigate the effects of increased movements at the dedicated business aviation facility.
It was recently named as the first carbon-neutral business aviation airport in the world, following a 10-year programme dedicated to raising its sustainability.
The ongoing initiative will also help to offset the environmental impact of rising aircraft movements at the UK site, located 55km (35 miles) southwest of London.
The airport is already on track this year to smash its 2007 record of 28,300 take-offs and landings. "By the end of June, we had celebrated over 15,000 movements – an increase of around 18% on the same period in 2017," says TAG Farnborough chief executive Brandon O’Reilly. "We expect to reach 30,000 by the end of the year."
O'Reilly rejects the suggestion that rising aircraft numbers are at odds with its environmental position. "We take our role very seriously," he says. "We can only influence what we have direct control over, and as aircraft flying into and out of the airfield are not owned or operated by us, they are not included in our [carbon] measurements."
That said, TAG Farnborough "is constantly looking at ways" to reduce the environmental impact of visiting traffic, he adds. “Access is limited to newer and quieter [ICAO] Stage 4-compliant aircraft and we have applied [to the UK Civil Aviation Authority] to reclassify the airspace around the facility" from uncontrolled class G to class D, O’Reilly says.
Operating with elements of controlled airspace will create more precise and efficient flightpaths, avoiding some commonly overflown regions, he explains. "These changes will not only lower aircraft emissions, but also reduce noise, improve safety and make more efficient use of airspace," says O’Reilly. The CAA is expected to announce its decision at the end of July.
TAG Farnborough achieved its carbon-neutral status under the Airports Council International Europe-led airport carbon accreditation scheme. Since 2008, the company has reduced carbon emissions over which it has direct control by more than 40%, and has invested more than £1 million ($1.3 million) in energy-saving initiatives in the past five years.
These include: upgrading to LED lighting at the airport site – including the terminal building, air traffic control tower and parking area; introducing electric vehicles and a supporting network of chargers throughout the airport; installing solar panels around the buildings and planting thousands of trees locally and in the Amazon rain forest through a carbon offset programme.
In an effort to reduce its carbon footprint even further, TAG Farnborough says it will replace the airfield's halogen ground lighting system with LEDs and expand its use of renewable energy.