As many as 6,000 staff working at Heathrow will be incentivised to acquire low-emission cars as the airport moves to improve London’s air quality as it gears up for a third runway.

They will pay for the cars through a monthly gross salary reduction.

This will ensure they receive savings in income tax and national insurance, in return for their participation in the scheme, according to the airport

The scheme will also offer discounts from car manufacturers for leasing low emission vehicles.

Imperial College London professor Helen ApSimon has been invited to chair a new Heathrow air quality expert review group.

The independent body will provide expert perspectives to ensure a third runway is delivered without compromising the UK’s ability to comply with legal air quality requirements.

Prof ApSimon is a renowned authority on air quality, having served on the Airborne Particles Expert Group, the National Expert Group on Transboundary Air pollution, and the Air Quality Expert Group of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The announcements support the goals of London mayor Sadiq Khan’s new transport strategy to deliver a fairer, greener and more prosperous London by improving air quality, and working towards making London a zero-carbon city, according to the airport.

The new measures are part of Heathrow 2.0, a new sustainability strategy, which aims to make the London hub a world leader in reducing emissions from all sources of activities.

Heathrow is targeting the real source of emissions – road vehicles – by working to increase public transport options to the airport, and through initiatives to encourage the use of cleaner vehicles.

New capacity at an expanded Heathrow will not be released unless it can be done without compromising the UK’s ability to comply with legal air quality requirements.

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director responsible for delivering expansion, said: “The new mayoral transport strategy sets environmental challenges that we need to meet – and we will.

“By working in partnership with others, by investing in technological innovation and by being prepared to take the lead sometimes, we can expand Heathrow in the right way. This is not – and must not be – a choice between the economy and the environment.”