TEACHERS are being warned that taking pupils on trips abroad can have a disastrous effect on the environment.

Bury Environment Forum claims that taking youngsters on just one foreign holiday can generate the same amount of carbon dioxide as the electricity and gas used by a school in one year.

The forum says long-haul flights consume large amounts of fuel and the impact of the greenhouse gases released at high altitude is much higher than at ground level.

The forum's resource issues group has issued a briefing note to all secondary schools and colleges across the borough recommending schools to check the environmental impact before considering a foreign holiday and to try to keep trips within Europe.

They warn that for a party made up of 50 staff and pupils flying to the USA, it would emit up to 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Chairman of the resource issues group, David Archer, said: "The travel industry keeps quiet about the fact that the carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft taking pupils on holiday can cause more damage that the school's entire energy use over a whole year.

"Unfortunately, the Government is encouraging further growth in the air travel industry so it is left to groups such as ours to try to get the message across."

The forum, made up of Bury councillors, council officers and members of the public, works to raise awareness of the environment and set out ideas to tackle climate change.

Mr Archer added: "We hope this briefing is discussed openly in meetings of school staff, senior managers and governors and that pupils are made aware of the environmental impact of any planned trips.

"School-organised holidays are an important part of education but we suggest that priority is given to more local destinations."

To calculate the climate change impact per passenger for any flight abroad, visit www.climatechange.org.