UK Government has failed to prove new Heathrow runway can meet air pollution targets say MPs

Written by Josh May on 23 February 2017 in News

Environmental Audit Committee says "little evidence" produced that new runway will be within safe limits of air quality

Heathrow - PA

The Government has failed to prove that a new third runway at Heathrow can be built without worsening the air pollution crisis in London, a group of MPs has said. 

The Environmental Audit Committee said there was “little evidence” of the action required to mitigate the impact of the extra aircraft – and accused ministers of trying to “water down” recommended carbon emissions targets.

It took just five days this year for London to breach the legal annual limit for nitrogen dioxide levels.


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When announcing its support for the new runway in West London last year, the Government said the development was “deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place”.

But its own advisors have since advised this may not be possible, and yesterday’s report says a new strategy is “urgently required” to avoid the expansion damaging public health.

“If the Government wants to get Heathrow expansion off the ground it needs to show that a third runway can be built and run without exceeding legal limits on air pollution or breaching our carbon budgets,” said Mary Creagh, the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee.  

“Mitigating the air quality, carbon and noise impacts of a new runway cannot be an afterthought.

“Ministers must work harder to show that Heathrow expansion can be done within the UK’s legally binding environmental commitments.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: "We take our air quality commitments extremely seriously and have been very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met."

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