UPDATE: Council confirms no plans to run Sunderland Airshow in the future as 2023 event cancelled - citing 'global climate emergency' as key factor

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Council bosses have said they have no plans to run the world-famous Sunderland Airshow in the future – citing the global climate crisis as a key factor in their decision.

The local authority has confirmed that it has no plans to run the aerial extravaganza in the future after councillors were told it will not take place in 2023 due to the city’s ambition to be carbon neutral, the escalating cost and “not having our eggs all in one basket”.

Next year’s airshow, which traditionally attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city’s seafront, was provisionally scheduled for July 2023. However, the World Triathlon will take place on the allocated weekend for the Airshow which city leaders hope will bring national and international coverage.

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Now, council leader Graeme Miller has said the ‘global climate emergency’ and the city’s desire to be carbon neutral by 2040 makes it ‘all the harder to justify events such as the airshow.’

The red arrows perform at the 2018 Sunderland Airshow.The red arrows perform at the 2018 Sunderland Airshow.
The red arrows perform at the 2018 Sunderland Airshow.

Among alternative plans, the council have said the Armed Forces will be heavily involved in an event planned for Seaburn next summer. The Airshow was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, with COVID-19 also being the cause for this year’s cancellation.

Coun Miller insisted residents had said they want to see new and different events, and ones that they themselves can get involved in. He added: "No-one who has witnessed the extreme weather events of recent years, from wildfires and droughts across Europe to the storms and heatwaves we’ve experienced here this last year, can be in any doubt about the devastating impact that climate change is having on our planet. Residents have identified the environment as one of their top concerns and both the council and the city have committed to tackling the global climate emergency by reducing carbon emissions. This makes it all the harder to justify events such as the airshow, which generate large amounts of carbon, going ahead in the future.

The news was met with anger among opposition councillors.

Lib Dem councillor Heather Fagan said: “Families in Sunderland and across the North East will be gutted by the news that the Airshow isn’t going to go ahead in 2023. It’s a well-loved event that anyone who grew up in Sunderland has fond memories of going to as a child."

There was no Sunderland Airshow in 2022. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)There was no Sunderland Airshow in 2022. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
There was no Sunderland Airshow in 2022. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Antony Mullen, leader of Sunderland City Council Conservative opposition group said: “Once again Sunderland Labour Council has proven it cannot organise a successful events calendar. We are offered another excuse for the airshow’s cancellation - last year we were told it was COVID despite there being no restrictions and this year it is because the Council does not have its ‘eggs in one basket’.

“The Council was not ready to admit its plans to cancel the air show until Conservative councillors forced its hand at a meeting of a Scrutiny Committee. There is nothing wrong with moving the air show to a biennial to save money as part of a longer term strategy, but once again we have been presented with ambiguity and uncertainty because the council is not properly organised.”