The Sustainable Aviation coalition has urged government to commit £500 million to help get a network of up to 14 sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facilities up and running across the UK.
According to the coalition, new research by E4tech suggests a sustainable fuels industry in the UK could create more than 20,000 jobs and contribute around £3 billion a year to the economy, while also saving 3.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2038 – which would contribute to the UK aviation sector’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.
It wants the government to pledge the cash at its next spending review, claiming the move would also support a post-Covid boom and make the UK a world leader in clean aviation technology.
Locations the coalition has earmarked for facilities are split into seven clusters: Teesside; Humberside; the north west; south Wales; Southampton; St Fergus; and Grangemouth.
These areas, the coalition says, have the right feedstocks and infrastructure to turn household, agricultural and industrial waste into jet fuel, with operations powered by renewable energy.
The government cash would be used for the "essential commercialisation" of sustainable aviation fuels, including producing the facilities, supporting development of new technologies, and testing new products.
"SAF must play a major role in enabling the aviation industry to deliver its commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions for all departing flights by 2050," said the coalition.
"This pressing need is alongside airspace modernisation and exciting engine and aircraft technologies, such as electrification and hydrogen."
Adam Morton, chair Sustainable Aviation, added: "Sustainable aviation fuels will be essential for the global aviation industry in a net-zero world, and the UK has a golden opportunity to become a world-leader by commercialising this technology at an early stage.
"There are enormous benefits in terms of jobs and growth across these clusters. By backing SAF in this way, government can kickstart a green recovery, create high quality and future-proof jobs for thousands of people. All of this can be delivered at the same time as slashing carbon emissions."
Sustainable Aviation council members include Airlines UK, Airbus, the Airport Operators Association, British Airways, and several major airports.
Coalition members include Abta, easyJet, Jet2.com, Tui Group, Virgin Atlantic and a number of other UK airports, aerospace and aviation firms.