THE owner of Southampton Airport has committed to achieving net zero for its direct emissions by the mid-2030s.

The pledge is part of a sustainability strategy launched by AGS Airports.

Southampton Airport has been at the focus of a long-running controversy over plans to extend its runway to allow for larger aircraft.

The scheme, which bosses argued was vital to the airport’s future, was approved by Eastleigh Borough Council after a lengthy debate in April.

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS – which also owns Aberdeen and Glasgow airports – said: “At AGS we have always been acutely aware that operating such important pieces of infrastructure comes with responsibilities; to our people, to our communities and to the environment.

“As we seek to regrow and restore the connectivity that will help drive Scotland’s and the UK’s recovery post-Covid , we will balance the undoubted social and economic benefits of aviation with our climate change responsibilities.

“We have made significant progress in addressing our own environmental impacts. However, we recognise there is more work to do.”

All three AGS airports achieved carbon neutrality for their activities on the ground in 2020 and the strategy includes a “roadmap” for reaching net zero by the decarbonisation of the company’s infrastructure.

Mr Provan said: “In 2020 we became carbon neutral which is an important first step towards our ultimate goal of achieving net zero carbon for our direct emissions by the mid-2030s. Whilst this is a central pillar of our strategy, our sustainability commitments go beyond the decarbonisation of AGS. We want to create shared value and ensure our communities can share in our success as we seek to rebuild.”

The sustainability strategy, based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, also includes support for decarbonisation and the promotion of sustainable aviation fuels, the transition to ultra low-emission ground vehicles and continuing investment in community groups and charities.

Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton were ranked first, second and third retrospectively among UK and European airports by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, which assesses the environment, social and governance performance of real estate and infrastructure businesses.