PM urged to consult again on Heathrow air quality impacts

MPs, councillors, campaigners and scientists sign letter calling on Prime Minister to reopen consultation over air quality impacts of Heathrow expansion

MPs, councillors, scientists and campaigners have written to the Prime Minister urging him to reopen a consultation over the potential air quality impacts of building a third runway at Heathrow Airport — or to rule out expansion altogether.

A number of high profile politicians from across the political divide are calling on the government to reopen a consultaion on Heathrow air quality

A number of high profile politicians from across the political divide are calling on the government to reopen a consultation on Heathrow air quality

Signed by politicians from across the political divide, the letter states that a third runway at Heathrow will “obviously” worsen West London’s air quality and urges David Cameron to abandon the plans or reopen the consultation process “so the views of millions of people potentially affected can be properly considered”.

Earlier this month, the independent Airports Commission under Sir Howard Davies controversially recommended that a third runway be built at Heathrow alongside a number of measures to mitigate air quality and environmental impacts of expansion at the airport (see story).

The recommendation followed a consultation process which ran from May 8-29 2015, which sought views over the potential air quality impact of expansion at the airport.

However, signatories of the letter — including eight London MPs and council leaders from six London boroughs — said this process was too short, with interested parties given only 13 working days to respond to the “highly detailed technical reports, spatial maps and data spreadsheets as well as to interpret the Commission’s own complex methodology on receptor locations for example”.

In addition, the letter claims that as the Commission’s final 350-page report was published just a month later on July 1 2015 “limited further work was done to response substantively to the points raised during this exceptional consultation” and that “it is clear that the Commission effectively regarded it as a tick box exercise and one that was immaterial to the overall report”.

It states:

“We believe that the problem of air quality has not been taken seriously enough by the Commission and are concerned that they made their recommendation after undertaking a flawed consultation on the issue.”


Others to add their names to the letter also include: King’s College London air quality Professor Frank Kelly; Conservative hopeful for London Mayor Zac Goldsmith; former Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer; two London Assembly Members; and campaigners from the likes of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Clean Air in London.

The letter also cites recent studies finding that almost 9,500 premature deaths in London each year are attributable to air pollution, as well as the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the UK government must produce a new air quality plan before the end of the year to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits.

Sent to the Prime Minister on Friday (July 24), the letter states: “Air pollution at Heathrow is already above the legal limit. It is hard to see how a third runway with millions more car and lorry journeys to the airport will improve air quality around West London. It will obviously make it worse. In doing so it will also raise the legal bar for expansion ever getting the green light.

“In our view this issue is too important simply to wish away. Either the consultation process should be reopened so the views of the millions of people potentially affected can be properly considered or — preferably — the government should rule out expansion at Heathrow given the huge environmental and health impacts it would cause.

“We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response.”

The letter is signed by the following:

  • Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Hillingdon borough council leader
  • Councillor Ravi Govindia, Wandsworth borough council leader
  • Lord True, Leader, Richmond upon Thames borough council leader
  • Councillor Stephen Cowan, Hammersmith and Fulham borough council leader
  • Councillor Kevin Davies, Kingston upon Thames Royal borough council leader
  • Councillor Ruth Dombey, Sutton borough council leader
  • Zac Goldsmith MP
  • Tania Mathias MP
  • John McDonnell MP
  • Ruth Cadbury MP
  • Bob Blackman MP
  • Kate Hoey MP
  • Adam Afriyie MP
  • Andy Slaughter MP
  • Baroness Kramer
  • Baroness Hamwee
  • John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK
  • Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth
  • Jonathan Steel, CEO of Change London
  • Alistair Wardrope, coordinator of Healthy Planet UK
  • Eleanor Dow, deputy coordinator of Healthy Planet UK
  • Stephen Joseph, chief executive, Campaign for Better Transport
  • Professor Frank Kelly, King’s College London
  • Clean Air in London
  • Shazia Ali-Webber, I Like Clean Air
  • Andrew Wood, Network for Clean Air
  • Tim Johnson, director of the Aviation Environment Federation
  • John Stewart, chair of HACAN
  • Peter Willan, chair of Richmond Heathrow Campaign
  • Teddington Action Group
  • Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group
  • Stephen Knight, Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson, London Assembly


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8 years ago

Simple solution BAN all old, un-economical, & polluting plains. British Airways fleet of 40 plus 747s bought in the 90s are the biggest polluters at the airport. This will significantly reduce the pollution, Speed up the time the planes sit on the taxi ways before take-off.

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