Green Party demands that Bray Air Display be carbon neutral

Green Party councillor Erika Doyle says steps must be taken to offset carbon use at the Bray Air Display

Senan Molony

The Green Party is demanding that Bray's Air Display this summer should be carbon neutral.

Local council cathaoirleach and Green Party councillor Erika Doyle says offsets are needed because of the extension of the July show this year to two days instead on one.

It comes after revealed that a Green Party TD, Brian Leddin, is a qualified pilot – but no longer travels by air, even as a passenger, because of climate concerns.

“Thousands of litres of jet fuel will be used during the [air show] event,” Ms Doyle told the Wicklow Times today, criticising the environmental cost of “air display and pleasure helicopter flights”.

“A similar show in Bournemouth – Europe’s largest air show – recently committed to offsetting their carbon emissions using various initiatives.

“Other air shows have followed. I see no reason why Bray should not do the same.

“In a time of climate crisis, we need to look at the carbon footprint of an of event like this, now extending to two full days of air display and pleasure helicopter flights.”

Organisers have proposed an extension to the show from one day to two, but Ms Doyle says residents of Bray should have their say.

“Firstly, it's important to say that many thousands of people enjoy the air show every year. It's also unquestionably beneficial to the seafront traders,” she said.

Her submission on the application does not necessarily mean an objection to the show, she said. “It’s just an observation on how things might be improved or tweaked. It's only right that residents of Bray, who must deal with the negative knock-on effects of the event, get to have their say.

Mr Leddin, the Green TD for Limerick City, has made the choice of planet, not plane — even though he is a fully-qualified private pilot.

He says he has decided to practise what his party preaches by avoiding aviation for the benefit of an increasingly polluted and climate-challenged world.

He has not taken a flight since his election to the Dáil in 2020. Mr Leddin explained he had been fascinated by aircraft since he was a small boy. He obtained his pilot’s licence in his 20s, explaining: “I grew up near an airfield, a couple of kilometres away.

“Limerick Flying Club is based at Coonagh airfield in Limerick and the flight path was over the house where I grew up. We would see them [light aircraft] all the time.

"When I started working and earning money, I decided I would join the club and I spent many Saturdays and Sundays out there. I tipped away at it for a couple of years. I finally qualified in 2009 at age 29. I loved it. A lot of people would have worked at Shannon Airport as many of my friends did.”

He is now qualified to fly single-engineer piston aircraft and to fly solo – and even to fly at night, by instruments only. He believes he has 150 to 200 hours’ flying time accumulated, “not a huge amount”. He has not flown since 2019.

Yet since the election in 2020, when asked to attend events abroad in the course of his parliamentary work, he has chosen to travel by ferry and by rail. He has also given up driving.