BCP’s Green councillors call for vibrant new Bournemouth festival to replace the Air Show in a time of climate emergency

12 May 2020

Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole’s Green councillors call for the Bournemouth Air Show to be replaced in the coming years, as one measure to address the climate emergency and to centre local tourism around the needs of residents across the conurbation. 

The comments come as BCP Council announce the cancellation of the Air Show this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made to ensure the safety of residents and minimise the spread of the virus.

Councillor Simon BullSimon Bull, Green Party Councillor for Winton East and member of the Unity Alliance administration running BCP Council, said, “The decision to cancel the Air Show this year was the right one, to protect the residents of Bournemouth and surrounding areas, as well as to do our bit to stop the virus from spreading. We are in a crisis, so it’s right we act on it. Once the pandemic is over, we will remain in the grip of another global crisis that requires us to make similar bold, better and sustainable green choices. We must treat every crisis as a crisis and act proportionally to the risks and urgency that the situation requires. An Air Show does not fit inside the Council’s declaration of a Climate & Ecological Emergency or our commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement going forward.” 

He also raises issues with the Council’s confirmation that the Air Show will go ahead in summer 2021.

“If we are to meet the 2030 commitment to be carbon-neutral throughout BCP Council and its operations and for the broader conurbation to follow suit soon after, is it possible to justify that the Air Show is planned to go ahead next year? We need to lead on this now because we’ve declared the Climate and Ecological Emergency and not wait to pass the buck to the next administration in the lead-up to 2030.”

Last year, the BCP Council announced a carbon offsetting scheme for the Air Show, committing to planting over 200 trees, one for every estimated tonne of carbon dioxide emitted by the aircraft that perform during the event. While BCP’s Green councillors welcomed the efforts to address the climate impacts of the Air Show, Cllr Bull says that these new commitments do not go far enough.

Carbon emissions in progress at the Air Show“We are facing a climate emergency right now. Carbon offsetting is not the solution. The trees we plant today will draw-down this carbon across their life-time, it doesn’t immediately remove the 274 tonnes of carbon the planes emit during the show. It also doesn’t address the emissions impacts from all the increase in car traffic into Bournemouth from tourists and traders. And while the partnership also commits that for every tree planted a tonne of carbon dioxide will be saved by avoided deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, we should support projects that protect rainforests without using them to justify our own local emissions.”  

UK-based commercial energy consultancy Green Energy Consulting estimates that a UK native broadleaf tree absorbs on average one tonne of carbon dioxide during its entire lifetime of approximately one hundred years. This would mean that the carbon emissions of the aircraft from the four-day event could take up to a century to be fully offset. 

Heavy local trafficThey also highlight that not all residents in the conurbation welcome the arrival of the Air Show, when large crowds of people come to the town, causing traffic congestion, increased air pollution, litter and general disruption to the local community over the course of the four-day event. 

“It could be a great time to have a conversation with residents across Bournemouth, and the wider conurbation, about what they would like to see from a new event to replace the Air Show. We could have a vibrant festival to celebrate the cultural history and natural heritage of our beautiful home, champion local sustainable businesses and foster a sense of collective community involvement.”