Senior Cornwall Council officers have apologised for failing to assess proposals for the new air service between Newquay and London against the impact it could have on climate change.

After the council declared a climate emergency it was decided that a new decision wheel should be created to be used to determine the impact council projects and schemes have on climate change.

The climate change wheel was to be included in all decisions made by the council to ensure that the council is moving towards its aims to become carbon neutral.

However it was realised by some councillors that the climate change wheel had not been applied to the recent decision by Cornwall Council to award the contract and provide subsidy for the flights to London. The flights are subject to a public service obligation (PSO) which receives support from the government and council.

At a meeting of the council’s economic growth and development overview and scrutiny committee senior officers apologised.

Phil Mason, strategic director for economic growth and development, said: “We didn’t include the decision making wheel in bringing the decision forward. I very much regret that that was not included and apologise for that.

“It is a policy that is important to us and we should have done that and we didn’t.”

Nigel Blackler, director for infrastructure, added: “I am following on from what Phil’s just said and offer my apologies to you, chair, the members of your committee and Councillor Hannaford for omitting to include the climate change decision wheel to consider and approve the latest PSO.

“It was a serious omission on our part as officers and I appear before you today embarrassed to admit that.”

However Mr Blackler explained that while the decision wheel had not been included in the decision making process the council had considered the impact of climate change when making its decisions on awarding the contract for the air service.

He said that the new operator – Eastern Airways – had made commitments which would help to minimise the impact of the flights both in terms of carbon emissions and noise pollution.

Mr Blackler said that the aircraft being used have 40% lower carbon emissions than those used by the previous operator and were quieter.

He said that the new contract also had more flexibility to ensure that flights are carrying as many people as possible and that if they were operating at lower capacity can be altered to ensure best use.

In addition Eastern Airways has agreed to a voluntary carbon offsetting programme which will also help reduce the impact of the service.

Mr Blackler said: “These three elements in this PSO are significant moves to address the impact that these flights have and signify our intention to work with the aviation industry to bring emissions down.”

Councillors called for an all member briefing to be held to ensure that councillors understand the climate change decision wheel and how it is used by council officers.