Air Pollution Needs to be Cut

Heathrow Chief admits M4 would need to be diesel-free if 3rd Runway went ahead

Heathrow Airport’s outgoing chief executive Colin Matthews has admitted that the M4 would need to be diesel-free if a 3rd runway was ever built at the airport.  Matthews told the aviation specialists Flightglobal, that “to fix air quality at Heathrow [you need to] replace the fleet of diesel engines coming down the M4 [motorway]”.   It is the first time that a senior Heathrow official has been so frank about the air pollution problems the airport is facing.

The European Union has made clear that its air pollution legal limits set in 2010 must be complied with by 2020 or member states face hefty fines.  In the UK, Central London and Heathrow are the two big areas of concern.  There are pockets around Heathrow which remain stubbornly above the legal limits.  The problem is caused by both the aircraft and the heavy traffic on the nearby roads and motorways.

John Stewart, chair of the campaign group HACAN, which opposes expansion of the airport, said, “We commend Colin Matthews on his honesty but it simply act of faith for the airport to believe that air pollution limits will be within the legal limits by 2026, the date a 3rd runway would be expected to open, as the new runway would mean an extra 240,000 flights a year.”  

The Airports Commission, set up by the Government, is currently assessing the case for a 3rd runway at Heathrow and a second Gatwick runway.  It will report in summer 2015

April 22, 2014