As the first UK biofuel powered flight sets off today, Friends of the Earth has warned that the move will do nothing to cut aviation emissions and only distracts from the real issues.
The Thomson Airlines flight from Birmingham to Palma is being fuelled with a 50:50 mix of cooking oil and jet fuel supplied by SkyNRG.
Thomson plans to extend the number of flights powered by the fuel over the next three years. At the time Thomson revealed its plans it said sustainability was central to the decision to use biofuel.
However, FOE biofuels campaigner Kenneth Richter said if the aviation industry wants to cut its emissions it will need planes that are more energy efficient and more people will have to take the train instead. He added that more research was needed into green fuels that “don’t cause more problems than they solve”.
Richter said: “Used cooking oil is a source of clean fuel but there’s nowhere near enough of it available to fly planes this way in future – you’d have to collect waste vegetable oil for about a hundred years just for a return flight from Birmingham to Palma.
“In reality the kind of biofuel most likely to be used in planes is the same kind we use in our cars – from special crops grown abroad that are competing for land, increasing food prices and causing climate-changing emissions.”