Taking a strategic approach
The vision for an affordable net-zero airport of the future will centre on a strategic development plan – consisting of a long-term masterplan and a delivery roadmap – supported by assessment tools to evaluate options and monitor progress. (demonstrating how to secure net-zero).
Masterplans show what the future airport will look like, and should cover the entire system, from the journey to the airport via surface transport; airport infrastructure and movements through it; and flight departures and arrivals. A net-zero masterplan can be undertaken as part of a comprehensive plan, such as for determining future overall capital expenditure plan, or a specific study to identify the most appropriate solutions in terms of performance and affordability. Local geographical, political and regulation factors mean that the best solutions will vary from airport to airport. Cost of carbon offsetting or the impact of a national/local carbon budget will also differ across the industry and will need to be factored into the timeframe for the masterplan to determine the optimum strategy.
Having a lead masterplan vision for the future is important for business planning, stakeholder engagement and, where appropriate, planning consent. Change is inevitable, so a degree of flexibility is required across the typical 25-year masterplan timeframe. There could be multiple paths to realising the vision or it may recommend safeguarding alternative masterplan end-states, depending on how different drivers evolve in future. Developing an accompanying roadmap or phasing strategy is crucial for forward planning and decision making. The roadmap is a tool to help consider the likely dates of technological advancements, pricing strategies and market forces to identify the right timescales for investing in net zero measures. It can identify what decisions are required at different points of the journey, either to choose a particular phasing approach or, in a flexible masterplan, to choose between alternative end-state scenarios (see diagram below). The roadmap would ideally be based on triggers – such as traffic growth or environmental targets – rather than simply dates.
The planning and delivery of the net-zero airport of the future relies on an effective tool to assess the carbon footprint of the masterplan and roadmap – including embodied carbon, the airport’s own emissions (direct (eg from company vehicles) and indirect (eg from purchased energy) emissions) and its impact on wider carbon footprint (eg from purchased goods and services, and those from airport tenants). This would be used to assess options together with established tools for factors like costs, business case, deliverability and operability as well as non-carbon environmental factors. Once the data across all assessment criteria has been considered, the preferred masterplan and roadmap for the future airport vision can be determined and the set of preferred interventions and timescales confirmed.