Heathrow ex­pan­sion blow

Air­port told to re­duce il­le­gal pol­lu­tion lev­els ‘as soon as pos­si­ble’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

HOPES for ex­pand­ing Heathrow Air­port were said to have been dealt a ‘ma­jor blow’, after the UK’s Supreme Court as­sumed re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­forc­ing EU pol­lu­tion law.

Ni­tro­gen diox­ide lev­els at the air­port are al­ready in breach of the EU Air Qual­ity Di­rec­tive, although man­age­ment blame nearby traf­fic.

The gov­ern­ment had agreed to re­duce pol­lu­tion lev­els in line with the di­rec­tive by 2025, but the date has since slipped to ‘post 2030’.

The Court of Jus­tice of the EU (CJEU) has now re­jected this plan, say­ing UK min­is­ters will have to pre­pare new mea­sures for re­duc­ing il­le­gal pol­lu­tion lev­els ‘as soon as pos­si­ble’.

The CJEU has given the Supreme Court re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­forc­ing com­pli­ance with air qual­ity law.

Judges will ex­am­ine the case next year.

The cross-party 2M Group of coun­cils op­pos­ing ex­pan­sion says this is a ‘ma­jor blow’ for the plans.

Hilling­don Coun­cil leader Coun­cil­lor Ray Pud­di­foot, a spokesman for the group, said: “Be­fore this rul­ing Heathrow be­lieved it had over a decade to meet the le­gal pol­lu­tion lim­its.

“Even then the air­port was mak­ing some highly op­ti­mistic as­sump­tions about cleaner air­craft be­ing in­vented and then rushed into ser­vice.

“There is no way out of this for Heathrow. Min­is­ters may have given them an easy ride but now the Supreme Court will have to be con­vinced pol­lu­tion will be re­duced ‘as soon as pos­si­ble’ while in­creas­ing flights, road traf­fic and freight.”

But Heathrow’s man­age­ment say the rul­ing will have ‘no im­pact’ on their plans.

A spokesman said: “We take air qual­ity very se­ri­ously and have al­ways said we will only go ahead with Heathrow ex­pan­sion if we can do so within strict air qual­ity lim­its.

“Within two kilo­me­tres of the air­port, the only air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing site to ex­ceed the EU limit value for NO2 [ni­tro­gen diox­ide] is lo­cated along­side the M4. The re­sults at that lo­ca­tion are largely as a re­sult of road traf­fic, ap­prox­i­mately three quarters of which is not air­port-re­lated.

“In the last decade Heathrow has achieved sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tions in emis­sions – even though the num­bers of peo­ple and air­craft us­ing Heathrow have in­creased.”

The case for a new

The air­port was mak­ing some highly

op­ti­mistic as­sump­tions about

cleaner air­craft”

run­way at Gatwick, rather than Heathrow, seems to have strength­ened as five sep­a­rate polls showed support for the move.

The polls, com­mis­sioned by Gatwick Air­port but con­ducted in­de­pen­dently by YouGov, showed stronger support for ex­pand­ing Gatwick than for Heathrow among London coun­cil­lors and res­i­dents, peo­ple liv­ing near Gatwick and Heathrow, as well as UK small busi­nesses, although some of the mar­gins were small.

The poll sur­veyed 235 coun­cil­lors in the cap­i­tal, ask­ing which air­port would be the best choice for ex­pan­sion in relation to nine sep­a­rate cat­e­gories.

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