The Guernsey Air Display Foundation (GADF), alongside the air display and wider events industry, is very aware of the sustainability concerns surrounding air displays and there is a large amount of work going on behind the scenes to mitigate the impact of air displays and large-scale events.

 

The British Air Display Association (BADA) has recently published an Environmental Sustainability Charter as well as committing to ‘Vision 2025’, a network of over 500 outdoor events and businesses taking positive action for climate change.

As a member of BADA, the Foundation, along with other displays around the UK, is committing to the charter.  The charter focuses on five key points:

  1. Eliminate single use items

  2. Think green with your contractors

  3. Facilitate public transport and active travel

  4. Offset aviation emissions

  5. Promotion sustainable aviation

 

We are taking guidance from BADA and other air displays across Europe to reduce the impact and carbon footprint of the annual display as we go forward.

However, it should be noted that our event differs to many other UK and European displays in a number of ways:

 

  • Our display lasts a couple of hours, rather than being a full or multi-day event.

  • Guernsey’s event is not based on an airfield or within a defined site so we do not have large volumes of waste, single use items and infrastructure issues to consider.

  • It is estimated that the impact of the aircraft taking part in a display in Europe is between 3-9% of the total carbon footprint of 

      the whole event.

      For Guernsey this percentage will be much higher and will work with the display teams and local advisors to work out the impact

      of the display as a whole during 2022.

 

  • Although the Air Display attracts visitors to Guernsey to watch the display, we do not have the large-scale movement of traffic associated with the larger scale displays.

This means that whilst, for instance, for a multi-day display event the carbon footprint of the display teams accounts for a relatively small percentage of the total, for Guernsey the display teams account for almost all of the total footprint.  We are therefore reliant on the progress aviation is making to make the industry more sustainable and environmentally friendly and will very much be ongoing.

One of the aims of the display is to inspire the next generation of pilots, engineers and aerospace professionals who will be essential to solving the very challenges we are facing.

To share a few examples of the work that is in progress and continues to be investigated by the aviation and display industry:

 

  • the RAF Red Arrows is sourcing a ‘greener’ alternative for their red, white and blue smoke trails;

  • the RAF is working towards a carbon-neutral future and is developing a synthetic aviation fuel.  At the end of last year, the RAF and Petroleum Zero broke the Guiness World Record for operating the first flight fully powered by synthetic fuel.

      

     The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, wants to see the service achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the       year 2040.  He also wants an emissions-free aircraft flying in RAF colours by the end of this decade.

     To find out more about the work already taking place in the RAF and how they are going to get there watch the video: RAF's 

     quest to go green.'

  • Rich Goodwin is working with an Orkney-based company to develop a greener fuel and The Strikemaster is working towards being able to use a sustainable aviation fuel;

  • Display teams are calculating the carbon footprint of their display and the transfers to and from the event site to allow event organisers to offset the carbon generated or operate their own offsetting schemes; and

‘I’m encouraged that so much thought is going into reducing and mitigating the Guernsey Battle of Britain Air Display’s carbon impact. I welcome the fact that climate change considerations are driving innovation across the whole aviation sector, and while clean fuels and more sustainable technology are still very much a work in progress, I’m glad that in the meantime there is a sharp focus on minimising emissions and offsetting the impact of this popular local event.’

Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of the Committee for Environment & Infrastructure

There is of course action we can will take at a local level.

  • We will aim to choose contractors and display teams who are taking steps to tackle the climate challenge;

  • Will will aim to booked display teams that have a shorter transit time to Guernsey and hence use less fuel;

  • We will no longer print an official programme. Instead, we will but have have a digital version this available on the website and via published QR codes on social media.

  • The reception at Castle Cornet will build on the steps already taken to use locally sourced produce and source wines from Europe rather than further afield.

  • We will encourage active travel the members of the public watching the display to cycle or take the bus into St Peter Port or to their viewing spot and to responsibly dispose of their waste.

  •  Carbon offsetting  is clearly a last resort and, whilst progress continues to be made by the aviation industry, we are researching  offsetting the carbon footprint of the display.  Any financial contribution will ideally support an on-island project so the benefits are felt locally.

Despite these concerns, it must be remembered that alongside providing entertainment for thousands of people the display plays a crucial role in:

  • Commemorating the lives and legacy of all those RAF aircrew who have served their country with honour and pride over the last 100+ years and ensuring the continued preservation of our historic aircraft which enriches our national heritage.

  • Celebrating the invaluable work that the RAF Association does for all former and current serving personnel who need support and assistance.  In 2020, over £10,000 was raised by RAFA's Guernsey branch.

  • Inspiring the next generation of pilots, engineers and aviation professionals who we will rely on to enable the aviation industry to meet these challenges.