It is not clear where the Manston emissions-cost calculations, quoted on Kent Live (“Taxpayers could foot £3.8 billion bill for Manston Airport carbon clean-up”), have come from – given that Manston was not even included in the report upon which the story is based. We’ve asked the New Economics Foundation to clarify their methodology, but our calculations lead us to assume that they’ve taken the full capacity Manston figures (which will take at least twenty years to achieve) and applied them from the moment Manston reopens. This error makes their calculation for Manston wildly inaccurate and, once this is confirmed, we will be seeking a retraction and apology.
Nevertheless, as we told the journalist earlier this week, RSP fully acknowledges that the UK Government and the aviation sector collectively face significant challenges in achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050 and we are committed to playing a significant role in addressing this.
The evolving nature of the dialogue and the technological developments to support the energy transition are moving much faster now than even just a couple of years ago. Manston, as essentially a completely new airport offers significant benefits in terms of future proofing for new technologies that will enable us to more than play our part in meeting this target. As set out in our proposals, we will be investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure to ensure that the operation of Manston Airport will be efficient and can achieve net zero emissions from its ground operations. By way of just one example, we are already in dialogue on how we can potentially utilise artificial intelligence, EV and hydrogen technology and access to the Thames Estuary into central London to reduce both the carbon output of ground operations at the airport, as well as the transfer of shipments to and from Manston.
In the air, we expect to see significant developments from airlines using Manston, be that improvements as a result of the redesign of airspace procedures, the renewal of fleets towards more efficient, newer aircraft, or the introduction of more sustainable fuels. We believe that offsetting still has a role to play, but our preference will always be to minimise carbon emissions in the first place.
Decarbonisation of the transport sector requires government support, widespread innovation and investment at the scale proposed at Manston and is a challenge that no single airport can achieve on its own. We are focused on making sure that Manston more than plays its part by aligning RSP’s investment with government policy, industry norms and operational processes whether that is the Balanced Pathway, set out by the Climate Change Committee or an alternative path to net zero that emerges from current and future consultation processes. RSP have always recognised the importance of ensuring balance between Manston‘s clear economic benefits and its operational responsibilities; acting always as an efficient, innovative and proactive member of the UK aviation sector.
As for the percentage of the cost that airport operators will be asked to bear, it is for the UK government to use levers such as the UK ETS to allocate carbon costs and we would expect to play our part in meeting those requirements.