Heathrow press releases

29 May, 2015

Heathrow operates lawfully and will only expand within EU air quality limits

Aircraft flying over lake


Heathrow operates lawfully, and the Airports Commission has been clear that the Heathrow Northwest Runway proposal can be delivered within legal air quality limits and will not delay EU compliance.

There are two locations adjacent to the M4 approximately two kilometres north of the airport, at Hillingdon and Hayes, where EU air quality limits are currently not met. These are characteristic of the broader problem London faces with traffic pollution and do not equate to an exceedence of air quality limits due to the airport. The contribution of the airport is low at these locations: 16% at Hillingdon and 6% at Hayes.

Heathrow understands air quality is a real concern for local communities and an issue London needs to tackle urgently. We have a good track record of improving air quality, and have reduced emissions from airport activity by 16% over five years. For example by incentivising airlines to bring their cleanest, quietest aircraft to Heathrow.

The recent Supreme Court judgement has helped to focus the attention of government, local authorities and industries on the need for concerted and prompt action to decrease vehicle emissions. We will continue to play our part to reduce emissions across the airport and have recently announced plans to make Heathrow an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by 2025.

We have always said that Heathrow expansion should only go ahead within EU air quality limits and have designed our North West runway proposal to do so. The evidence produced by the Commission confirming that Heathrow expansion can meet air quality limits is a clear indication the subsequent planning policy test is capable of being passed. Should the North West Runway scheme be selected by the Airports Commission, we expect any subsequent National Policy Statement to unambigoulsy state that expansion must not put air quality compliance at risk.

Heathrow’s submission to the airports commission’s air quality local assessment consultation can be found on the right.