Heathrow Airport says independent data clearly shows how road vehicles, and not emissions from operations on the airport, are the biggest contributor to air pollution in London. The airport has issued a new graphic which it says was compiled from the independent nation-wide network of pollution monitors run by the Government and by local authorities. It shows air quality limits across Greater London are widely exceeded, while the nine monitors within one kilometre of Heathrow airport show air quality has been consistently within the limit for the last eight years or more.
The graphic shows only two monitors in the vicinity of Heathrow are in breach the air quality limits, both of which are beside major roads. The first, just within 2kms of the airport fence, is 35 metres from the M4 motorway, at which, the airport says, only 16% of the pollution comes from airport-related sources. The other is beside a busy road junction in an urban centre, where the airport says its emissions are only 6% of the total. A statement from the Heathrow press office stated: “Put another way, even if Heathrow were completely closed down immediately, there would still be exceedances at these two locations. The latest forecasts by Defra show that both of these monitors are expected to be compliant by 2020, five years ahead of areas of central London.”
Heathrow NO2 Infographic – v9 280915
Heathrow reiterates that the graphic is consistent with the conclusions of the Airports Commission, set up by the Prime Minister, which concluded Heathrow air quality in the future will be better than now. Following a £20 million, two and a half year detailed study of where the next runway should be, the Commission has confirmed a third runway at Heathrow can go ahead without breaching air quality legal limits, as long as the airport continues to implement its mitigation plans.
Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Environment and Sustainability said:
“Heathrow understands air quality is a real concern for local communities and it’s an issue London needs to tackle urgently. We have made it clear that Heathrow airport has and will continue to play its part. But this data shows that the real culprit of pollution in London is road traffic, so we need other partners to play their role. We’re working with partners like the Mayor’s office on a strategy to reduce emissions from non-airport related road-traffic which is the major cause of pollution in the Heathrow area.”
Heathrow says it: “has an excellent record of improving air quality,” adding that it has reduced annual emissions from airport activity by 16% over five years. Heathrow’s Blueprint for Reducing Emissions outlines a ten point plan of tangible actions to reduce Heathrow’s emissions, including a commitment to turn every car or small van it owns to electric by 2020.