London Heathrow Airport in collaboration with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has invested in the restoration of UK peatlands to offset carbon emissions.
The initiative is part of Heathrow’s strategy to make the airport carbon neutral by 2020, and eventually for its infrastructure to be zero carbon by 2050.
Little Woolden Moss, west of Manchester will be Heathrow’s first restoration priority that has been subject to commercial peat extraction for more than 15 years.
The airport, which is extending support to research into the climate benefits of peatland restoration, aims to show that such projects can make a good option for airlines’ Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) commitments.
CORSIA is an international agreement to provide carbon neutral growth in aviation from 2020.
The project, which has been launched on a pilot basis, will explore opportunities for peatland to deliver cost-effective carbon offsetting as well as other benefits, such as biodiversity, water quality, and flood protection.
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So far, Heathrow has spent more than £94,000 in Little Woolden Moss to restore 70ha of peatland, which has been used for extraction until now.
DEFRA indicators estimate that the restoration of this project area could help save 22,427t of CO2 over 30 years that is equivalent to about 64,000 passenger journeys from Heathrow to New York.
After completion of this pilot project, Heathrow plans to invest in more peatland restoration projects over the next two years. The airport is already exploring other locations.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “We are very excited to announce our partnership with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and explore how UK peatlands can be used as a carbon offsetting tool.
“Climate change is the greatest challenge our generation is facing and while this is just the first of many projects, we hope it will be a model for the aviation industry to follow.”
The restoration of Little Woolden Moss will be done over three years, and the restored site will be used for cycling, walks, and community events.