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Heathrow public consultation can’t resolve air quality and climate change barriers to expansion

17th January, 2018

Heathrow Airport has launched a public consultation on its proposed expansion and airspace change principals. The consultation, which opened today, remains open until 28th March 2018. Below is AEF’s reaction.


Contact: Tim Johnson // Cait Hewitt // 0203 859 9371 (Out of office hours 07710 381742)

Anticipating tomorrow’s launch of Heathrow’s public consultations on its proposed expansion and on airspace change principles, AEF’s deputy director, Cait Hewitt, said:

The key environmental barriers to expansion will need to be addressed by Government.

On air quality, the scale of the problem means that any measures that Heathrow may be proposing will be pretty much irrelevant.

The bigger question of whether or not London’s air pollution will have fallen to within legal limits by the time a new runway is due to open (bringing with it an additional swathe of passenger and freight traffic) depends on how successful the London Mayor and the UK Government are in delivering new air quality policies and measures. There’s little Heathrow can do to influence the issue of background emissions, and we’re concerned that the Government plans to shift responsibility for the problem to the airport.

When it comes to climate change, the Government is still refusing even to have a conversation about how to tackle the problem of how to keep aviation emissions in line with the UK’s legal obligations until the other side of a parliamentary vote on Heathrow, because a third runway would push CO2 emissions over the limit recommended by the Government’s own advisers.

Even on noise, Heathrow can’t change the fact that expansion would mean an additional 700 planes per day over London residents, and it will be several years before we know where these will fly as we still have no certainty on where the flight paths will be.

No one should assume that a decision to expand Heathrow is done and dusted. There are still big questions about environmental impacts that only the Government can answer.


Contact: Tim Johnson // Cait Hewitt // 0203 859 9371 (Out of office hours 07710 381742)