Heathrow Says Emissions Data Completely Unrelated to VW Scandal

  • Pollution submission based on testing, not car makers' figures
  • Mayor candidate Goldsmith suggested delaying runway decision

Air-quality data submitted to a review of runway capacity in southeast England shouldn’t be dismissed as a result of the Volkswagen AG emissions-fixing scandal, London’s Heathrow Airport said.

Heathrow responded after Zac Goldsmith, the London mayoral candidate for Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, said on Tuesday the government should delay a decision on whether to expand the airport because the VW revelations showed the figures could not be trusted.

“The emission factors used in Heathrow’s emissions forecasts are completely unrelated to the VW issue,” the airport said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. “Heathrow’s technical submission to the Airports Commission on air quality was based on a vigorous vehicle-test cycle specifically designed for emission modeling, not on emissions performance claimed by manufacturers.”

Cameron promised to give a decision on future airport capacity in southeast England by the end of December after commissioning a report from Howard Davies, now chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, to damp down controversy about the plan before May’s general election. Davies’s report, published in July, recommended expanding Heathrow, and some U.K. newspapers have reported that Cameron will use the VW scandal to delay a final decision until after the London mayoral election in six months’ time.

‘Changes Everything’

“The VW scandal genuinely changes everything,” Goldsmith told reporters in London on Tuesday. “It means the data on which all of the Airports Commission’s assumptions are based is not only flawed, but is known to be fraudulent. If the government were to decide to go ahead with the Airports Commission’s recommendation now, it would be doing so on the basis of evidence we know is wrong.”

Heathrow, to the west of the capital, said the data it submitted to Davies’s commission was based on laboratory tests, roadside measurements and in-car testing and took into account evidence that diesel vehicles had been producing more nitrogen dioxide than permitted.

In September, VW admitted to duping regulators by installing technology in 11 million cars worldwide that turned on full pollution controls only during tests.

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