Heathrow Airport has today submitted its response to the Airports Commission Air Quality consultation, a process launched in 8th May and closing tomorrow. The Airports Commission has completed a thorough assessment of the air quality impacts for all three expansion options – Heathrow, Gatwick and Heathrow Hub. After rigorous assessment, and based on a conservative analysis of Heathrow’s proposed mitigation measures, the Commission confirms Heathrow can expand within air quality limits.
Heathrow has a good track record of improving air quality. Actions we have taken, such as incentivising cleaner planes and operating procedures, have reduced emissions by 16% over the last 5 years.
Heathrow’s response to the Airports Commission outlines actions we have taken since our technical submission in June 2014, including the airport’s investment of £16 million to widen airfield taxiways to reduce emissions from aircraft on the ground, as well as the launch of the airport’s Blueprint for reducing emissions - a 10 point plan to further reduce emissions, including creating an ultra-low emissions zone at the airport by 2025.
The Airports Commission has found Heathrow’s proposals to institute vehicle standards aligned to London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, charge airlines less for cleaner planes emissions and promote the use of electric vehicles mean that air quality limits can be met around Heathrow.
In addition, Heathrow has proposed further measures which have not yet been fully taken into account in the assessment, but which the Commission states are ‘credible’, including:
· Heathrow’s complete surface access strategy which includes increasing public transport options to Heathrow, which will mean more than 50% of passengers travel to the airport by public transport by the time a third runway opens including by Crossrail, Western Rail Access, improved tube services and the potential Southern Rail Access.
· Cleaner airport operations on the ground as improved technology and processes being rolled out across Europe make ground movements much more efficient
· If necessary, the potential to introduce a congestion charge to reduce the number of cars. Any congestion charge would be subject to a full public consultation
If all of Heathrow’s mitigation proposals are taken into account, and if Government and local authorities seize the opportunity of Heathrow expansion as the catalyst to finally address pollution arising from non-airport related road traffic on the M4, air quality around the airport would be improved beyond simply meeting legal requirements.
Heathrow has welcomed the consultation process, and in fact called for it in its February 2015 response to the Airports Commission.
Matt Gorman, Heathrow Sustainability and Environment Director, says:
“The Airports Commission Air Quality analysis has confirmed an expanded Heathrow will go beyond meeting local air quality limits. We worked with local communities and campaign groups so that our new approach to Heathrow expansion would deliver the right environmental solution as well as the right solution for the economy. Now let’s get on with it. "
Heathrow's full submission to the Airports Commission's Air Quality Consultation can be viewed in the download section on the right-hand side of this page.