THE North-East is missing out on nearly £400m each year because of tax breaks and subsidies given to the aviation industry, Friends of the Earth claimed last night.

The environmental group called on the Government to make the industry pay its own way and spend the extra money on improving transport and other public services.

The UK aviation industry benefits from £9.2bn in subsidies through a variety of tax breaks.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has calculated that just over £393m more could be spent in the region if this money was taken back. FoE aviation campaigner Richard Dyer said: "The Government must put an end to these tax breaks and incentives and force this polluting and destructive industry to pay its own way."

Brian Hall, of the Campaign for a North-East Assembly, said the money could be used to improve the region's rail network, for example the links between Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlebrough

Alan Clarke, chief executive of development agency One NorthEast, suggested taking a look at existing spending on all transport in the region and making best use of it before considering other options.