Heathrow set new targets on traffic and pollution

Heathrow set new targets on traffic and pollution

A third runway at Heathrow will not be permitted unless the airport meets new targets on car journeys, aircraft noise and pollution under a government blueprint being published today.

Dozens of restrictions will be imposed to prevent lives being blighted by expansion of Europe’s busiest airport, The Times reported.

Binding noise targets to curb use of the loudest passenger aircraft will be imposed by ministers, with levels being monitored by the UK’s first independent aviation noise watchdog.

The national policy statement (NPS) will commit the airport to a cap – set at present levels – on the number of cars being driven to the airport.

More than half of passengers will have to take public transport, up from just over four out of ten at present.

Separately, the government will also publish a consultation on the reorganisation of UK airspace and on the noise from all airports.

It will propose the establishment of the Independent Commission for Aviation Noise to crack down on the use of the loudest aircraft.

On Heathrow, ministers will say that a north-west runway must be built “within existing air quality limits”, with a new assessment into emissions being carried out in the light of a Supreme Court ruling in November that rendered the previous pollution action plan illegal.

The blueprint will rule out the construction of a fourth runway by saying that any proposal for further expansion would be “in conflict” with the NPS.

Publication of the NPS will trigger a year-long process that will lay the groundwork for Heathrow’s expansion.

A four-month consultation on the plans will be followed by a vote by MPs late this year or early next.

It would then allow Heathrow to submit a formal planning application, which would take about four years.

The Civil Aviation Authority said recently that only 41% of passengers used public transport to arrive at or leave the airport.

Heathrow may have to impose draconian measures such as a congestion charge to lure them out of cars.

John Stewart, chairman of Hacan, the local campaign group, said: “Some of these conditions will really put [Heathrow] on the spot, particularly when it comes to traffic. They may have no alternative but to opt for really controversial measures like a congestion charge.”

Heathrow is expected to meet all requirements set out in the document, allowing the runway to be built by 2025 at the earliest, according to Whitehall sources.

But critics said that some of the requirements could be barriers to a third runway.

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