Heathrow press releases

08 May, 2015

Air quality assessment confirms Heathrow can expand within environmental limits

Aircraft Blue Sky 2


Today’s announcement by the Airports Commission confirms that Heathrow can expand without exceeding air quality levels.

The Airports Commission’s report, published today, says that there are “no predicted exceedences of the air quality objective at any receptor location, in either the Do-Minimum or Heathrow NWR scenarios”.  Heathrow has proposed a comprehensive air quality mitigation strategy for expansion, including an extensive surface access strategy which will limit airport-related road traffic, which will improve air quality further still.

Heathrow takes air quality very seriously and the airport has cut emissions by 16% in the last five years.  Thanks to investment by the airport  40% of passengers now arrive by public transport and this will only increase when Crossrail arrives in 2019 and the Piccadilly line upgrade is complete.  And more can be done as the reason for air quality currently exceeding EU levels north of the airport is road traffic on the M4. Action is needed from Government and City Hall to get cleaner vehicles on the motorways and give more people an alternative to cars.  The welcome ruling by the Supreme Court should provide the momentum needed to deliver those improvements.  The next Government must also commit to Western and Southern Rail Access which will provide people to the south and west of Heathrow a better alternative than coming by car, with good public transport links through Reading, Clapham Junction and Waterloo. 

Last week Heathrow announced its 10-point air quality blueprint.  As part of that plan the airport is discussing with the Mayor of London how London’s Low Emissions Zone can be extended to the M25 and, in time, the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, and replace diesel buses and coaches serving Heathrow with hybrid or alternative vehicles. 

The Airports Commission suggested some further mitigation measures in its report including use of biofuels, an Ultra Low Emissions Zone and reduced engine taxiing.  Heathrow is already working on delivering those changes.

John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport

“This evidence from the Airports Commission is great news for Heathrow expansion.   It shows that our plan, which has been produced with local community views at its core, can be delivered without exceeding air quality limits.

“Expanding Heathrow will deliver what the nation needs and what politicians want - an opportunity to win the race for jobs and growth by connecting the entire country to the world’s fastest growing destinations.  It’s the only decision that will create up to 180,000 new jobs and £211bn of economic growth, shared across Britain.”