Committee chair Creagh accuses ministers of Heathrow 'fantasy'


The chair of a key committee of MPs has criticised the Government’s refusal to commit to maintaining air quality standards after Brexit and called its estimate of the carbon impacts of Heathrow expansion ‘a fantasy’.

The Environmental Audit Committee has published the Government’s response to its report on The Airports Commission Report Follow-up: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise.


In response to a request from the committee that it clarify its position on post-Brexit air quality limits, the Government referred to the Great Repeal Bill, which will convert EU law into UK law, and asserted: ‘Our strong commitment to improving air quality will continue after the UK leaves the EU.’

The Government also said it had reviewed the Airports Commission’s (AC) work on carbon impacts and believes that the scenarios and assumptions on abatement measures used are realistic and that the analysis takes into account impacts on other airports.

It added: ‘None of the AC’s carbon scenarios involves placing additional pressure to reduce emissions on other sectors of the UK economy except as a consequence of carbon price.’

Committee chair Mary Creagh said: ‘Heathrow expansion should only go ahead if the Government has a clear plan for the extra air pollution, carbon emissions and noise.

‘I am pleased to see the Government agrees with my Committee’s recommendation on measuring the noise impacts, but ministers are still refusing to guarantee that EU air quality targets won’t be quietly dropped after we leave the EU, have no national plan for air pollution, and their carbon calculations are a fantasy.’

On surface access to the airport, the Government said it had proposed the outcomes it wishes to see, ‘including specific targets relating to public transport mode share and employee travel that the airport would be required to meet’.

It added: ‘It is the Government’s expectation that, subject to the outcome of the NPS [National Policy Statement] and planning processes, the mode share targets at paragraph 5.16 of the draft NPS would become binding upon the airport.’


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