Environmental Audit Select Committee: Airports Commission Report and Heathrow

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Today the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee examined what the Airport Commission Report’s recommendations mean in terms of carbon emissions, air quality and noise.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO Heathrow Airport, Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability & Environment and Sir Howard Davies, Former Chairman Airports Commission, were three of the witnesses at today’s hearing. You can read the full report here (page 167 for environmental assessment).

The report framework sets out six objectives:

1) to minimise and where possible reduce noise impacts;

2) to improve air quality consistent with EU standards and local planning policy requirements;

3) to protect and maintain natural habitats and biodiversity;

4) to minimise carbon emissions in airport construction and operation;

5) to protect the quality of surface and ground waters, use water resources efficiently and minimise flood risk; and

6) to minimise impacts on existing landscape character and heritage assets.

WWF-UK policy advisor on aviation James Beard said: “A new runway would bust our carbon targets and increase pollution and there are as yet no firm policies, either domestically or internationally, that could solve that problem. Any airports expansion must be coupled with robust policies to tackle the extra emissions; otherwise the UK risks pulling a major climate blunder coinciding with vital UN climate talks in Paris.

”The way forward is clearly to make more efficient use of existing UK airport capacity, and to make better use of alternatives to flying – which many forward-looking firms are already doing.”