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Davies Commission recommendations beset with environmental hurdles, says Aviation Environment Federation

1st July, 2015


Davies Commission recommendations beset with environmental hurdles, says Aviation Environment Federation

The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)[1], the national environmental campaigning organisation representing community groups around the UK’s airports, has urged the Government to reject the Airports Commission’s recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow, given its insurmountable environmental impacts and widespread opposition.

AEF is opposed to a new runway at any of the sites short-listed by the Airports Commission because all three options would breach CO2 limits and have unacceptable local environmental impacts.

Cait Hewitt, AEF’s Deputy Director said:

“The recommendation to expand Heathrow will be fiercely resisted by local authorities, MPs, communities and environmental organisations. Every government that has ever considered Heathrow expansion has ruled it out once the full scale of the environmental impacts has become clear.”

“People living around Heathrow are already exposed to more noise than at any other airport in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people around Heathrow would be overflown for the first time if a new runway is built. The Government should ensure that those people are fully consulted before deciding whether or not this is a price worth paying.”[2]

In relation to the air quality impact of expansion, Cait said:

“The UK has a legal obligation to meet EU air quality legal limits and despite its last minute consultation on the issue the Airports Commission still cannot say confidently whether or not expansion would be legal.”

AEF also challenged the Airports Commission’s assessment of whether expansion is compatible with climate change targets [3], highlighting that according to the Airports Commission’s analysis all three of the options would, on current technology trends, lead to breaches in aviation’s emissions cap even if the sector was included in a global carbon trading scheme.

 “Increased emissions from a second runway at Heathrow, like all the shortlisted expansion options, would breach the climate change target for aviation unless politically challenging measures are introduced to limit growth at other airports or to substantially increase the cost of flying.”



For more information, contact the AEF Office on 020 3102 1509.

[1] The Aviation Environment Federation is the leading UK organisation campaigning exclusively on the environmental impacts of aviation. We represent community groups and individuals around many of the UK’s airports and airfields. Further information can be found on our website.

[2] A group of senior MPs around Heathrow airport recently launched a campaign to highlight the size of the population that could be overflown if a third runway is built

[3] The Airports Commission has been unable to demonstrate convincingly how a new runway can be built without breaching the Climate Change Act and has made claims about the economic benefit of expansion that do not take into account the costs of keeping emissions from UK aviation to the UK’s Climate Change Act. Our concerns about the Commission’s analysis on CO2 are detailed in our recent report.

Image credit: Ray Wewerka via Flickr