Air quality is a critical issue in the debate over where the UK’s next runway should be built – indeed, it has been a major factor in the vehement opposition to previous attempts by Heathrow to expand.
We believe the economic benefits of airport expansion must be balanced with the impact on the environment. Only Gatwick can offer the new runway the UK needs but at a fraction of the environmental cost of other options.
Gatwick has never breached EU or UK annual air quality limits and the airport has committed to maintaining this record if a second runway is built. While our location helps us to maintain this record, Gatwick operates also one of the cleanest aircraft fleets in Europe and is aiming for carbon neutral operations by 2040.
In comparison, the area around Heathrow already breaches EU air quality limits and DEFRA data said it was not expecting compliance with EU NO2 levels in the Heathrow area until 2025, and that is without a new runway.
According to the global environmental consulting firm Environmental Resources Management and Clear Air Thinking, if the Government approved Heathrow’s expansion plans, it would be doing so without any certainty that the UK’s legal obligations and regulations could be met.
ERM found Heathrow has not provided any evidence that expansion at the airport would not increase NO2 levels above these legal standards or delay attainment of the limits. Nor has Heathrow included any quantification on how the airport’s proposed pollution mitigation measures – including a road congestion charge – would solve this issue.