East Midlands Airport takes delivery of electric Smart Car and wins environmental award for its nature trail
East Midlands' new electric-powered Smart Car
Mon 1 Dec 2008 – The UK’s East Midland Airport has won a Green Apple Environment Awards for its six-mile nature trail, the third consecutive year the airport has picked up an environmental best practice award from the Green Organisation. The airport, along with two other airports in the group, has also taken delivery of an electric-powered Smart Car as part of plans to make all ground operations carbon neutral by 2012.
The dedicated trail is surrounded by woodland, wildflower meadow and grassland, and includes art and sculptures, picnic benches and newly installed interpretation boards that provide information on plants and wildlife that could be found along the trail.
The addition of the electric-powered Smart Car to the transportation fleet is one of a number of initiatives in helping the airport to become carbon neutral by 2012 for its ground operations. The airport says a significant amount of carbon emissions is due to passenger and staff transport made to the airport and so it is looking to move its own fleet to zero carbon.
The Smart Car has been allocated to East Midlands, as well as two other members of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Manchester and Bournemouth, as part of a £100 million ($150m) Government partnership initiative with the Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies and Daimler Fleet Management to kick-start a revolution in low emission and electric vehicles.
To qualify for the use of one of the vehicles, which are not yet available on the open market, the airport must be purchasing green electricity to power vehicles, which MAG says it is already committed to, sourcing 30% of its current electricity needs from renewable sources, with ambitions to reach 100% by 2010.
The airport claims that around 7.2 tonnes of CO2 are saved over the four-year or 40,000-mile lease of the vehicle compared to the petrol version.
“It might look like small steps at first but the range and scope of environmental projects we are unveiling across our airports will mean we are able to make significant savings on carbon dioxide,” said Penny Coates, Managing Director of East Midlands and the executive board member responsible for the environment at MAG. “What the Smart Cars provide us with is a very visible example to our passengers and staff of how our operation needs to take advantage of innovation and new thinking to deal with the carbon issue at our airports.”
In 2002, East Midlands became the first UK airport to be certified to the Environmental Management Standard ISO 14001 and it claims that in 2006 the airport was the first in Europe to make public radar recordings of its operations using the WebTrak system.
However, East Midlands has also come under fierce criticism from local residents over night-time flights. The airport has managed to attract a high proportion of cargo-based traffic on the back of a relaxed night-time curfew. It is also awaiting planning permission to extend its runway, raising fears by residents that it is intending to accommodate larger and therefore noisier aircraft.
Local campaign group DEMAND has called on the Government to place a limit on night flights at the airport, which it says has more flights between 2300 and 0700 than London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports combined.