September 9, 2015
AEF has submitted written evidence to an inquiry into whether the Airports Commission’s recommendation to expand Heathrow Airport can be delivered without breaching Government policies on environmental impacts. The Environmental Audit Committee had asked for evidence of whether the mitigations proposed by the Commission in relation to emissions, air quality and noise were realistic and deliverable. Our response argues that:
- A new runway would have significant impacts in terms of climate change, air quality and noise. We urge the Committee to consider in relation to each of these issues both whether the Commission has identified the appropriate benchmark, and whether the mitigations it proposes to achieve that benchmark are realistic. Our own assessment concludes that the Commission’s proposed mitigations are neither sufficient nor deliverable.
- In relation to both climate change and air quality for which legal frameworks exist, the Commission has conducted ‘sensitivity testing’ on the basis of which it argues that the impacts can theoretically be mitigated. But it remains for Government to assess what package of policy measures would be required in each case to deliver the required mitigation, and the feasibility and cost of delivering these policies.
- In relation to noise, the Commission proposes a number of mitigations and makes a series of important assumptions. But without a clear policy or legal steer in terms of acceptable impacts it is a question of judgement whether these mitigations are adequate to limit both health and annoyance effects. It remains for Government therefore both to conduct an assessment of whether the Commission’s modelling and mitigations are realistic and to consider whether the impacts would be acceptable.
- Overall, we urge the Committee to recommend that the Government avoid making a premature decision on airport capacity, and to remain open minded until this important work is undertaken.
Download: AEF response to EAC Airports Commission inquiry
Visit: Environmental Audit Committee website
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