U.K. Environment Agency Bans Short Air Trips for Staff

U.K. Environment Agency Bans Short Air Trips for Staff

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on BusinessGreen.com, and is reprinted with permission.]

The Environment Agency has become the first government-backed body to effectively ban staff from taking domestic and short-haul flights wherever there is a lower-carbon alternative.

The agency said it has already reduced business car mileage by 24 percent over the past four years, but has now moved to beef up its green travel policy by barring staff from taking flights within England and Wales, or to destinations in Northern Europe served by Eurostar.

The policy, which came into effect from the start of June, is expected to cut the agency's annual carbon emissions by about 30 tonnes a year.

A spokesman for the agency told BusinessGreen.com that the ban could be temporarily lifted in exceptional circumstances, such as serious pollution events that require officials to reach a site as quickly as possible, although he insisted it would be vigorously enforced at all other times.

"Staff have been very supportive of the move," he said. "It just means that people have to plan ahead a bit more to ensure they get the best price for rail tickets or consider using teleconferencing where appropriate."

He added that the Environment Agency was hopeful that other government departments would follow its lead and cut back on domestic flights wherever possible.

The government has been criticized in the past for its use of domestic and short-haul flights, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change in particular facing questions over the fact that civil servants took more than 1,000 domestic flights last year.