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UK government confirms new sustainable aviation fuel targets

UK government confirms new SAF targets
The UK government says its plans are good for aviation, the environment and the country overall (Image credit: @tanaonte/Adobe Stock)

The UK government has today confirmed new targets to ensure 10 per cent of all jet fuel in flights taking off from the UK is sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030.

The UK’s SAF mandate, which, subject to parliamentary approval, will come into force in January 2025, will be one of the first globally to be put into law, which the Department for Transport (DfT) said puts the country at the “forefront of decarbonising air travel”.

It follows the world’s first commercial, 100 per cent SAF-fuelled flight from the UK to the US by Virgin Atlantic last November – which the government awarded £1mn in funding for.

UK transport secretary, Mark Harper, said: “Sustainable aviation fuel protects the future of UK aviation, the thousands of British jobs that depend on it, and the holidays and business travel flights that we all rely on.

“As part of our plan to grow the economy, the measures announced today will give both UK aviation and the UK SAF industry the certainty they need to keep creating skilled British jobs while giving passengers the freedom to continue travelling by air in a way that’s fit for the future.”

Following consultations with industry leaders, the UK government has committed to “ambitious but achievable” sustainability targets that will see around 1.2 million tonnes of SAF supplied to the UK airline industry every year – enough to circle the globe 3,000 times, according to the DfT.

The government says its plans are good for aviation, the environment and the UK overall with the SAF industry estimated to add over £1.8bn to the economy and create 10,000 jobs.

It comes following £135mn of recent funding allocated through the Advanced Fuels Fund, supporting the growth of 13 “ground breaking” SAF projects across the country.

While it recognises the significant costs of SAF compared to traditional jet fuel in the short-term, the government added, “we’re ensuring decarbonisation doesn’t come at the expense of consumers”.

This plan is part of the government’s approach to ensure the rationing of flights through ‘demand management’ is ruled out.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association trade group, said: “Sustainable aviation fuel is a key part of the decarbonisation of air travel and a domestic SAF industry will create jobs, wealth and help the UK secure its energy independence.

“We are pleased that the government has brought forward proposals for a mandate and revenue certainty scheme, that will send the message to investors that the UK is serious about developing its own production facilities.

“Government and industry must now work together to keep this momentum towards delivery going so that we can grow sustainably and meet our carbon targets.”

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