Air quality around Gatwick improved further last year, according to the latest annual independent monitoring report issued today.
The annual Reigate and Banstead Council report found that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in the Horley air quality management area – the principal site for measuring the air quality impact of the airport – remained below the UK annual average objective of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (μg m-3) in 2014.
NO2 concentrations were 27 μg m-3, compared to of 28 μg m-3 in 2013 and 33 μg m-3 in 2012.
The airport claims the Airports Commission’s consultation on air quality was flawed in its backing for a third runway at Heathrow over a second runway at Gatwick.
Gatwick criticised the Commission’s final report for underplaying the airport’s strengths and the challenges of Heathrow, with the analysis of air quality singled out as a major concern.
Gatwick said legal advice confirmed that expansion at Heathrow would be unlawful because of breaches in air quality standards – a risk that was not factored into the Commission’s final conclusions.
Alastair McDermid, Airports Commission director at Gatwick, said: “It seems incredible that the Airports Commission has paid so little attention to the issue of air quality, especially when it has prevented Heathrow expansion in the past.
“The final decision rests with the government, which is legally bound to consider the issue properly.
“We remain confident Gatwick will be chosen as our plans strike the right balance between delivering the extra capacity the UK needs, while also minimising the impact on the environment.”
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