Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 535 - 539)



  Q535  Joan Walley: I welcome the witnesses. I have to apologise that we are expecting a vote and this session may be a little chaotic in that sense. I hope that you will bear with us. For the benefit of the Committee, perhaps each of you will briefly introduce himself so we know exactly into which bit of the picture he fits.

  Dr Walmsley: I am Tim Walmsley, Head of Environment at Manchester Airport.

  Mr Paling: I am Chris Paling, an environmental adviser at Manchester Airport.

  Mr Dowds: I am Donal Dowds, BAA Group Planning director.

  Mr Irvin: I am Joe Irvin, Director of Public Affairs at BAA.

  Q536  Joan Walley: We are grateful to you for coming along. We want to kick off by asking you the way in which the chairman of the Environment Agency, Sir John Harman, has recently called for the Government to set itself a specific target for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in the transport sector. Do you agree with that? If so, should aviation be included?

  Mr Dowds: We do not agree with that particular approach. This is a global problem. To move forward we have to concentrate on the ultimate issue which is the global impact of CO2. We therefore believe that an emissions trading scheme is the most efficient and effective mechanism to approach this. Of course, that is the ultimate global solution but we believe that initially it should start as a scheme that affects all the industries within the EU.

  Q537  Joan Walley: Does Manchester want to add to that?

  Dr Walmsley: We concur with that.

  Q538  Emily Thornberry: Let us say that airlines buy their fuel from Heathrow Airport. Presumably, you know how much fuel you are selling to airlines; you do not sell it to anyone else. Is not another way to ensure that we keep some tabs on the environmental impact of the amount of fuel that is being used for you to impose some sort of tax or environmental levy? While we are waiting for a European trading scheme to be established why can BAA not voluntarily undertake that?

  Mr Dowds: To make one correction, it is the oil companies that sell fuel to airlines.

  Q539  Emily Thornberry: But you know how much is being sold on your sites?

  Mr Dowds: Certainly, through the fuel farms on our airports we know the total volumes that are moving around. We believe that taxation is a blunt instrument that fails to recognise the source of emissions. At the end of the day to tackle it by taxation or depression of demand does not deal with the source of the problem. We believe that an emissions trading scheme is the best way to do it because the scheme itself creates a cap which then means that the allowances available drop. The successful industries and countries that can get below their limits and allowances can then sell those. I do not think there is any dispute on this side of the table that initially aviation will grow and it will have to buy those allowances and the market mechanism will make those more expensive over time, so additional cost and downward pressure on those industries and countries which are growing will ultimately help us to achieve the only goal that matters which is an overall reduction in the impact on climate change. We believe that the taxation instrument is inappropriate because it does nothing to solve the problem at source.

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