- Panel says airport must provide guarantees on CO2 and noise
- Environmental Audit Committee responds to Davies Commission
The expansion of London Heathrow airport should be delayed until the hub can guarantee compliance with a raft of anti-pollution requirements, a panel of U.K. lawmakers said.
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee said a third runway shouldn’t be built at Heathrow without a ban on night flights, a commitment to covering ground-transport improvements, and proof that the airport will be quieter than at present and operate within accepted air-pollution and carbon dioxide limits.
The findings threaten to cloud a decision on expanding Heathrow that Prime Minister David Cameron has promised by the end of the year. The airport, recommended for growth by a government-sponsored commission led by Howard Davies, said it’s fully compliant with environmental rules.
“Our new plan for expansion has ensured that Heathrow will be quieter, public transport to the airport will be transformed and air quality will continue to be improved and limits will be met,” Heathrow said, adding that there is “no obstacle” to Cameron backing Davies’s recommendations.
While the amount of time each night without scheduled flights would increase, the airport, located in an urban area to the west of London, said hours of operation should be decided by the government after local consultation. Cameron opposed the expansion of Heathrow before coming to power, later seeking to depoliticize the debate by appointing Davies to report on the issue.
London Gatwick airport Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate said in a statement that the parliamentary committee had made a “highly significant intervention” that called into question the legal basis of Davies’s findings. The hub, south of the city, had been shortlisted as a contender for growth before the commission identified Heathrow as the best option.
“The government has a duty to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in London to protect the health and well-being of its population,” committee chairman Huw Irranca-Davies said. “Increased pollution should certainly not be permitted on the grounds that other areas of London are even more polluted.”