ClientEarth wants clarity over Heathrow air quality plans

Environmental law firm ClientEarth has called for greater detail on the proposals put forward yesterday (12 May) to limit air pollution from a potential third runway at Heathrow Airport.

ClientEarth's Alan Andrews

ClientEarth’s Alan Andrews

ClientEarth, which is behind the legal challenge over the government’s plans for tackling air pollution across the UK, has called for ‘detailed analysis’ of the proposals put forward by Heathrow, and how they would help to meet air quality limits.

The organisation also claimed that pollution levels around the airport must be cut ‘drastically’ before expansion can be considered.

Yesterday, a series of measures were outlined as to how the airport would aim to meet air quality limits were it to go-ahead with a third runway (see airqualitynews.com story).

These go further than those proposed by the Airports Commission and include the creation of an ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) for airport vehicles by 2025 and an emissions charging scheme for all vehicles accessing the airport.

Low emission zone

The proposals also indicate that Heathrow would work with the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to extend the existing low emission zone to address areas of current non-compliance along the M4 motorway near Heathrow, and to “tighten standards” throughout the entire zone.

According to ClientEarth, the proposals put forward by Heathrow go further than the ‘pathetic’ plans outlined by the government to tackle air quality in the area.

ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “Last year the UK Supreme Court ordered the government to draw up new plans that would bring air pollution in London within legal limits as soon as possible. Even without expansion, under those new plans the area around Heathrow will continue to be in breach of legal pollution limits until 2025.

Zaha Hadid's vision for the third runway at Heathrow

Zaha Hadid’s vision for the third runway at Heathrow

“Heathrow has gone further than the government in proposing it be brought within the ultra low emissions zone. That’s definitely an improvement on the Government’s pathetic plans, but it doesn’t get around two fundamental problems.”

Mr Andrews claimed that the steps outlined by Heathrow would likely be necessary to meet emissions limits regardless of whether the third runway proposals go ahead, and he claimed that this should be carried out in conjunction with steps to reduce emissions from diesel cars more widely.

He added: “We need to see detailed analysis on what these proposals would achieve, but air pollution around the airport needs to be cut drastically before we can think about expansion. It’s difficult to see how that would happen without something far more radical than what’s currently on the table.”