John Holland-Kaye says airport meets EU air quality standards and will still meet them if a third runway is built
Heathrow’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: “You may hear that air quality is a problem. Not so. Heathrow today meets all EU air quality standards and with expansion, we will still meet them – in fact we won’t release new capacity until we can demonstrate that is the case.
“What you may not have heard is that we are the environmental leader in our sector – 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. On the environment, we can deliver.â€?
It is the Heathrow chief’s first speech since the government announced in December it would not be making a final decision on the UK’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, Heathrow’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 “substantialâ€? nitrogen dioxide pollution to the area and put it in breach of UK and EU law (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Meanwhile, Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee said last year that such environmental conditions should have to be met at Heathrow and that “increased pollution should certainly not be permitted on the grounds that other areas of London are even more pollutedâ€? (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Nevertheless, Heathrow’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 “overwhelmingly supportedâ€? by the majority of local communities, a “significant majority of MPs from all major partiesâ€? and also by several airlines, employer’s groups and trade unions.