Ministers face questions over Heathrow environment impacts


A committee of MPs will next week question the transport secretary on the environmental impacts of expanding Heathrow after a key body questioned the Government’s presentation of likely greenhouse gas emissions.

Chris Grayling will appear before the Environmental Audit Committee on Wednesday (30 November) following its publication of his response to its inquiry last year into the environmental aspects of the Airports Commission’s findings.

Committee chair Mary Creagh

The Committee previously said it would question Mr Grayling if the Government agreed with the commission’s recommendation to build an additional runway at Heathrow Airport. Last month Mr Grayling confirmed backing for the scheme, subject to consultation and with a final decision next year.

Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said: ‘We’re particularly keen to hear from the Secretary of State about how the third runway will be compliant with our EU air quality obligations, especially in light of the High Court’s judgement that the UK’s air quality plan is illegal.’

Separately, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the independent, statutory body that advises ministers, has written to business secretary Greg Clark, expressing ‘concerns’ about how the Department for Transport presented the implications for greenhouse gas emissions in the business case for the new runway.

CCC chair Lord Deben pointed out that the commission assessed whether the case for airport expansion ‘made sense’ on the basis of a planning assumption that aviation emissions would be at 2005 levels in 2050.

However, the business case for expanding Heathrow ‘concentrates on a “central case” which has emissions in 2050 that are about 15% higher than the planning assumption’.

Lord Deben said that in publishing a National Policy Statement next year, ministers should either set out how the business case supports Heathrow expansion with aviation emissions at 2005 levels or explain how emissions from other sectors would otherwise be cut.


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