John Holland-Kaye says airport meets EU air quality standards and will still meet them if a third runway is built
Heathrowâ€™s chief executive yesterday (February 8) denied that air pollution is a problem at the airport and insisted that it can comply with EU air quality law even if a third runway is built in West London.
Speaking in London, John Holland-Kaye also reiterated that no new capacity would be added at Heathrow until the airport can demonstrate that there would be no breaches of EU environmental law as a result.
Mr Holland-Kaye said: â€œYou may hear that air quality is a problem. Not so.Â Heathrow today meets all EU air quality standards and with expansion, we will still meet them â€“ in fact we wonâ€™t release new capacity until we can demonstrate that is the case.
â€œWhat you may not have heard is that we are the environmental leader in our sector â€“ we have reduced emissions by 16% over five years and are the only airport in the world to have signed the Paris Pledge on climate change.Â On the environment, we can deliver.â€
It is the Heathrow chiefâ€™s first speech since the government announced in December it would not be making a final decision on the UKâ€™s airport capacity until later this year in order to undertake further environmental assessments (see AirQualityNews.com story).
According to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who was speaking separately yesterday during a select committee hearing, a new runway will be built either at Heathrow or Gatwick airport by 2030, with hopes of a final decision from the government on which destination in July 2015.
However, Heathrowâ€™s claims are at odds with the findings of a report commissioned last year by expansion-rival Gatwick, which argued building another Heathrow runway would add â€œsubstantialâ€ nitrogen dioxide pollution to the area and put it in breach of UK and EU law (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Meanwhile, Parliamentâ€™s Environmental Audit Committee said last year that such environmental conditions should have to be met at Heathrow and that â€œincreased pollution should certainly not be permitted on the grounds that other areas of London are even more pollutedâ€ (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Nevertheless, Heathrowâ€™s Mr Holland-Kaye used his speech yesterday to assert that there are no policy obstacles in the way of the government making a swift decision in favour of capacity expansion at the West London airport.
He also claimed a third Heathrow runway is â€œoverwhelmingly supportedâ€ by the majority of local communities, a â€œsignificant majority of MPs from all major partiesâ€ and also by several airlines, employerâ€™s groups and trade unions.