Visby Airport works for the sustainable development of the airport and the aviation industry. Like Swedavia’s other operations, we are one of the world’s most climate-smart airports, and we are always taking new steps to be even better. At the end of 2020, Swedavia achieved its goal of zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions from airport operations run under its own management.
In June 2018, Visby Airport reached its goal of zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions from its own airport operations and obtained its ACA certification.
There is extensive work behind our success in achieving zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions. We purchase green electricity for all of our operations, our uninterruptible power supply runs on EcoPar Bio (synthetic paraffin oil, free from palm oil and PFAD), and our vehicle fleet and equipment/tools run on HVO, fossil-free gas, green electricity or biogasol.
Read more about our work with our zero emissions goal, what else we do and what you can do to contribute to the transition to net-zero aviation.
Expanded climate work
All of Swedavia’s airports are accredited at the ACA 3+ level in accordance with Airport Council International (ACI) Europe’s standards for the climate work of airports. That means our airports continuously reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions from their own operations, offset the emissions that have not yet been reduced and help other businesses operating at the airports to reduce their emissions. At the end of 2020, we achieved our goal of fossil carbon dioxide emissions for all ten airports.
The next goal is to have all the airports accredited at the ACA 4+ level, which means that agents for de-icing runways/aircraft and coolants will be included in the measurements. We shall also work to a greater extent to engage and work together with other companies and organisations that have significant carbon dioxide emissions at the airports in order to continue reducing emissions together. Over time, all the operations at our airports will switch to renewable energy sources. This work is in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal not to exceed a 1.5 C degree rise in global warming as well as Swedavia’s strategy and goals for proactive climate change adaptation.
Historical environmental liability
Firefighting foam containing PFAS compounds was used at Visby Airport for decades, until the early 2000s, when it was discovered that these compounds were potentially toxic. In 2008, an internal ban on PFAS was introduced, three years before such firefighting foam was prohibited by law in 2011.
Swedavia treats PFAS as a priority issue. Each quarter, soil, run-off water, surface water and groundwater at Visby Airport are sampled in order to survey the presence of contaminants and the potential spread of PFAS. We work with action plans for contaminated soil and follow regulatory recommendations for surveying and measures to be taken.
Since the winter of 2017-2018, the surface water collected at Visby Airport is collected through a charcoal filter and then used to water the Gotska Golf Club’s golf course adjacent to the airport. About 25 million litres of surface water are treated each year.
Firefighting foam was mainly used at Visby Airport at its firefighting exercise site before 2008. Swedavia has delimited the area affected and identified about 30 properties with their own well whose water was affected by PFAS. These properties have been connected to the local water supply or had a charcoal filter installed. Work is currently under way to minimise the continued spread of PFAS.
Further information about PFAS, for instance which regulatory agency is responsible for what kind of work with contaminants, can be found on the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s website.
How the airport affects the environment
Air, soil and water
The biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions at the airport are the aviation operations run by the different airlines. Aircraft emissions consist mostly of combustion gases. Other emissions are produced by ground transport to and from the airport. Altogether, fossil carbon dioxide emissions from Visby Airport constitute about 0.13% of Gotland’s total emissions. The Swedish aviation industry aims to be completely fossil-free by 2030 (domestic travel).
Surface water from aircraft parking stands and the runway is collected and reused. Residue from the urea used for runway anti-skid treatment is picked up in the flow of surface water, and the nitrogen contained in it fertilises a nearby golf course when it is watered. Reusing the airport’s surface water reduces the use of both groundwater and mineral fertiliser. Surplus glycol from the de-icing of aircraft is collected separately, excess water is removed, and the product is used as new de-icing fluid.
Firefighting exercises mainly use biogasol as a fuel and only water as an extinguishing agent. This prevents the emission of unburnt fuel into the atmosphere and the discharge of extinguishing agent residue into the soil.
Airport operations include the heating of properties. Heating is provided by heat pumps and green electricity. Swedavia’s own carbon dioxide emissions only from renewable forms of energy do not contribute to net carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.
Sampling of run-off, groundwater and surface water is carried out in compliance with control programmes. Soil samples are also taken in conjunction with groundwork. There are residues of coal tar from older layers of asphalt.
The airport works very actively with residential planning. By changing approach and landing methods to the south of the airport and by holding meetings with pilots and air traffic controllers, efforts are made to limit noise exposure for residences and other operations that are sensitive to noise. The airport is located near the sea so only short flight paths over land are needed for current routes because most commercial traffic heads for the Swedish mainland.
Visby Airport has a rich variety of flora and fauna. Large parts of the airport area are managed as hay meadows, where many different species of plants and animals are found – a number of which are rare. Read more about biological diversity at Visby Airport.
Infrastructure investments for electric aircraft
With the help of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s Klimatklivet project and in partnership with GEAB and Region Gotland, two charging points for electric aircraft have been installed by Swedavia. The investment in electric aircraft is an important part of the aviation industry’s transition to net zero operations. On October 1, 2021, the first electric aircraft landed at Visby Airport and the charging points were inaugurated.
A pilot facility with a unique inductive, dynamic power transmission system has been set up at Visby Airport and along the road leading to central Visby. A lorry and an airport bus serve as test vehicles on the world’s first wireless electrified road for buses and heavy lorries. Electreon developed the charging technology, and the project is being funded by the Swedish Transport Administration. Take the opportunity to travel with Smartroad Gotland’s airport bus this summer.
Read more at Smartroad Gotland
Energy efficiency measures
The airport works actively to reduce energy use. Air source heat pumps are being installed, thus replacing direct-acting electricity and the wood pellet-burning boiler that previously heated some buildings.
Soil remediation trial
In conjunction with Svevia, NIRAS and Örebro University, a trial is under way to clean soil contaminated with PFAS. Analyses carried out on a laboratory scale show good results. Soil remediation may be a way to prevent the continued spread of PFAS compounds from areas contaminated in conjunction with previous firefighting exercises (before 2008).
Environmental permit procedure
Swedavia applied for a new environmental permit for its operations at Visby Airport in early 2013. The aim of the application is to obtain a permit based on current environmental laws, the Swedish Environmental Code, and to safeguard operations over the long term. On January 29, 2015, a ruling was issued on a new environmental permit for Visby Airport. As a result of the ruling, among other things, a decision on the final conditions for surface water was postponed for a trial period. During the trial period, Swedavia carried out studies, the results of which were submitted on August 31, 2021. Visby Airport awaits a decision on the final conditions regarding the treatment of surface water. The environmental permit regulates, among other things, civil och military flight paths, noise levels, chemical and waste management, and the airport’s emissions.
Environmental report 2021, PDF (in Swedish)
Environmental report 2021, Appendix 1, PDF (in Swedish)
The Webtrak tool that we previously made available here on our website is being reviewed, and we are exploring the possibilities of using other data sources. This is in order to once again enable people living in the vicinity of our airports to track air traffic movements. It will also be possible to connect this information to aviation noise measurements where available.