Record fines for airlines in breach of carbon emission rules

The Environment Agency has published details of the latest fines for breaches of aviation emissions regulations, including the largest single fine to date.

03 February 2017

In the latest round of penalties for breaches of airline emission rules, published by the Environment Agency (EA) on 27 January, more than 30 companies were fined a total of over £650,000 for failure to comply with obligations under the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), including a single fine of £344,949 for helicopter transportation company CHC Scotia Limited – the largest yet levied for a breach of the aviation EU ETS.

The EU ETS requires companies to purchase and surrender emission allowances to account for total carbon dioxide emissions. The aviation EU ETS specifically applies to aircraft operators companies, and their associated emissions, and the recipients of the current round of fines had all failed to surrender the necessary allowances for emissions recorded in their 2013 annual reports by the necessary deadline.

These substantial fines show that the UK’s decision to leave the EU (a decision which has left future UK involvement with the EU ETS looking increasingly unlikely) has not meant that the UK regulator has reduced its commitment to enforcement of obligations under a scheme, and should serve as a warning to those who may otherwise be complacent with regard to EU compliance issues as Britain starts down the road to Brexit.

Moreover, potential transgressors should be aware of publicity risks: the EA’s report particularises each fine and transgressor and has the potential for embarrassment both literal and financial. DJT Operations – the owner of a private jet used by US President Donald J Trump – was last year fined £1,610 for a similar breach.

For more information, please contact Simon Tilling or Stephen Lavington.

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Simon Tilling Partner

  • Head of Environment
  • REACH, Chemicals and Product Stewardship
  • Energy, Power and Utilities

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