Luton Airport expansion ads banned after greenwashing complaints

Credit: Adfree Cities
By Kelly Ranson
Home » Luton Airport expansion ads banned after greenwashing complaints

Luton Rising, the owner of London Luton Airport, has been banned from using a series of adverts that failed to highlight the environmental impact of its planned expansion, including aircraft emissions.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints about adverts that appeared in a magazine and on a poster on the London Underground, stating the ads ‘omitted significant information and were therefore misleading’.

Complainants including campaign groups Adfree Cities and the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), challenged the ads, which were posted in April 2024, and which stated: “If we miss our environmental limits, our expansion will be stopped in its tracks.”

Luton Rising said the purpose of the ads was to show that ‘mitigating environmental impacts were central to the airport’s expansion plans’ and that ‘a fundamental part of their plan was to grow London Luton Airport (LLA) sustainably, and not at the expense of the environment’.

It added if expansion was approved, it would implement its Green Controlled Growth Framework, which placed limits on noise, air quality, emissions from the airport’s operations and road traffic.

The ASA said that, while this was summarised in the adverts, Luton Rising ‘did not provide further information about the limits included in the Green Controlled Growth Framework’ and the fact more than 83% of emissions were from air traffic.

It said: “The Green Controlled Growth Framework identified three principal sources of GHG [Greenhouse gas] emissions arising from the proposed expansion – airport operations, surface access and air traffic movements.

“However, although the Green Controlled Growth Framework included limits on noise from all three sources, only the first two were included in the environmental limits on expansion for carbon emissions, with air traffic movements excluded.”

It added that, in 2019, the airport’s total GHG emissions stood at 1,341,235 tonnes CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), of which 83.7% were from air traffic movements and around 1.3% were from airport operations.

The ASA concluded: “Notwithstanding the reasons given in the Green Controlled Growth Framework for excluding air traffic emissions from the expansion’s environmental limits, we considered their exclusion was material information that was likely to affect people’s understanding of the ads’ overall message, and should have been made clear.”

The ASA said the ads must not appear in their current form again.

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