One of the world’s busiest airports has thrown its weight behind an innovative climate change project on the outskirts of Dundee.
Heathrow marked today’s news that it has become one of the first major global aviation hubs to become carbon neutral by announcing an investment of £1.8 million to kickstart UK nature-based carbon-saving projects, including one centred on Arbuckle’s Fruit Farm at Invergowrie.
Fruit grower Stuart Arbuckle set up Agricarbon, a commercial venture, in 2018 to work alongside nearby James Hutton Institute (JHI) to find a way of measuring soil carbon and developing a cost-effective commercial tool which can help UK farmers tap into the carbon credits market.
He said: “Companies who are looking to become carbon neutral but can’t decarbonise internally have to offset, so we’re trying to build the tools which measure soil carbon and how that changes over a period of time so we can generate soil carbon credits which can be sold to companies to bring revenue to farmers.”
Heathrow Airport revealed yesterday it was succeeding in its climate change targets by offsetting emissions through tree-planting projects in countries including Indonesia and Mexico.
However, the airport is also investing in supporting UK-based projects which include the restoration of natural carbon sinks such as peatlands, woodlands and farming soils.
Mr Arbuckle explained the cost of measuring carbon was a big barrier to farmers being able to quantify how much was in their soils, but he said Agricarbon was aiming to develop a product later this year.
“We have applied for some significant funding support grants and if get that it means we can prototype our measurement tool, but to do that we will also need further investment,” he said.
His farm is trialling several sustainable practices such as multi-species cover crop and mob-grazing techniques.
“They are common things in farming, but the key is we’re measuring the soil over a three-year period to find out how they fix carbon, so we can work out what’s possible on a bigger scale,” he said.
Dr Helaina Black, senior soil scientist at JHI, said: “We are pleased to be able to support initiatives like Heathrow’s, which will help farmers and other land managers to increase and restore carbon stores in soils and ecosystems.
“It is vital that this carbon benefit is realised in the short term to address the climate crisis.”Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Making our infrastructure entirely carbon neutral is a significant milestone and a testament to the determination of our airport to help spearhead a new era of sustainable aviation.”