UK government grants powers to seize aircraft that breach emissions

The UK’s Environment Agency has been granted powers to seize planes from airlines which break the rules of a new scheme to limit carbon emissions.

Climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, and transport secretary, Geoff Hoon, will today announce the government agency’s new powers.The EA is the official body to enforce the European Emissions Trading Scheme for aviation. It will monitor emissions from flying, monitor companies’ buying of credits when they exceed their allocation and impose fines. It also has the power to seize assets of airlines that breach regulations.

The new authority given to the EA goes beyond its power to enforce the existing trading scheme for power companies and other big industries in the UK, because it is considered harder to enforce fines against airlines with no fixed assets in the UK.

The appointment of the EA is expected to please environmental campaigners, but they remain highly critical of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

“We trust the Environment Agency, but the ETS falls far, far, short of what’s needed to deal with carbon dioxide - the caps are too lenient so it’s not going to do the job,” John Stewart, chairman of the Heathrow campaign group HACAN told The Guardian.

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In his first major speech since green lighting a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow, Hoon is expected to criticise campaigners opposed to expansion of UK airports, arguing that rising demand would push the price of tickets so high that flying would become “the preserve of the rich”.

Campaigners continued a series of high-profile protests when they cut through a perimeter fence and disrupted flights at Aberdeen airport yesterday.
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