BOSSES at Southend Airport will spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to ease its impact on the environment.

Owners, the Stobart Group, is spearheading an environmental action plan is set to be unveiled by summer 2020.

This includes research on how it affects schools in its flight path.

The announcement comes after Southend Council declared a climate emergency.

Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation, said it was “incontrovertible” that global warming is a threat.

He said: “The declaration of a climate emergency by Southend is a big deal, it’s not done for fun, it’s incumbent on us to deliver as best we can to work with the council.

“What I said to them is that we will deliver an environmental action plan next year.

“We’ve already begun resourcing for it – it’s not a gimmick or a communications exercise, therefore it takes time.”

He said it wasn’t about “saying stuff” and was about tangible impact on the environment.

He added: “I won’t make false promises, I won’t be able to do everything people want, I know that. We will see the very best balance we can.”

He said creating the airport’s own energy and re-using rain water are important points.

Following criticism by Southend Council, he added: “The councillor was right to chide me that it was too late, that it was too slow, she’s probably got a point.”

The action plan will be a series of initiatives throughout the year, gathering data to analyse where the airport is doing well.

Experts and Southend residents will also be consulted.

Stobart described the plan as a “major investment” of a “six figure sum”, with thousands already spent on planning.

But Mr Jones said the airport already has decreasing levels of nitrogen dioxide on its site, with eco-friendly facilities already present.

He said: “I don’t know how many other airports have a solar farm at their airport – I don’t know one.

“When we built the terminal the roof has a large amount of solar panels on it. The glass we use is thermal insulation gas. We reuse our rainwater and really critically – 40 per cent of our passengers are coming by rail, and that’s growing a lot.

“That’s a benchmark for any airport. Take the planes out the main source of carbon emissions is road access.

“The impact is getting to and from the airport through road access.

“Last week we were 49 per cent coming by rail. The annual number goes up and up.”

Mr Jones said the action plan will help answer how much emissions the airport’s flight paths produce on the ground in Leigh, where the path takes planes over schools.

He added: “In terms of mission dispersal at altitude, from how I understand it, the level of dispersal is quite wide, it doesn’t disperse vertically, it disperses laterally. I don’t know whether there is a direct correlation between the flight path and the school and emissions. I’m told there isn’t, but it’s something I’m quite keen to find out more about.”