Heathrow Airport has published its response to the Airports Commission’s conditions for building a third runway, claiming that it will ‘exceed the overall package’.
It has agreed to the ‘early’ introduction of a ban on scheduled flights for six and a half hours every night, ‘after expansion planning consent [is] received, and [the Department for Transport] completes airspace modernisations’.
Jets at Heathrow
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has written to David Cameron claiming that its measures will allow him ‘to choose Heathrow and secure a stronger economy and Britain’s place in the world’.
Last July, the Commission recommended Heathrow as the site for a new runway, subject to a number of conditions, including a clear and legally binding ‘noise envelope’ and a ban on all scheduled night flights between 11:30pm and 6:00am.
It also said that new capacity ‘should only be released when it is clear that air quality at sites around the airport will not delay compliance with EU limits’.
In December, ministers delayed their decision on the Commission’s findings.
In response to the Commission, Heathrow has said it will support an independent noise authority, a system for the independent, regular review of the noise envelope framework, and targets to incentivise a reduction in aircraft noise over time.
On air quality, Heathrow accepted the Commission’s condition that capacity should not be released if it would delay compliance with EU limits but stopped short of a pledge that air quality in the vicinity would not breach those limits.
In a report in November, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee reported that many witnesses had read the Commission’s interpretation of the EU rules ’as implying that significant increases in NO2 resulting from Heathrow expansion would be allowable because of worse performance elsewhere in London.’
'This would make no sense in terms of protecting public health and wellbeing,' the Committee added.
Heathrow also proposed that the Environment Agency should be given the role of an independent aviation air quality authority, ‘to provide transparent scrutiny of the measures Heathrow will introduce to enable it to expand only in accordance with air quality rules’.
Lilian Greenwood MP, Labour’s shadow transport secretary said: ‘All proposals for additional mitigation measures are welcome. However, it is for the Government to implement essential measures such as creating an independent aviation noise authority as recommended by the Airports Commission, which could be introduced ahead of any runway expansion.’
She added: ‘David Cameron broke his clear promise that he would respond to the Airports Commission's recommendations by the end of 2015. Local residents are paying the price for continued inaction on noise and air quality, and the capacity constraints in the South East of England continue to hold back growth and cause inconvenience for passengers.’