Heathrow Offers Concessions In 3rd Runway Bid

Heathrow Airport has promised to reduce night flights and curb both noise and pollution if it is allowed to build a new, third runway.

The pledge comes ahead of a government decision expected this summer on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick.

Critics argue Heathrow has previously broken such promises.

Last year, the independent Davies Commission recommended expanding Heathrow, but with severe environmental restrictions.

It recommended a curb on night flights, limits to overall noise and guarantees that local pollution would not get worse.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive at Heathrow Airport Holdings said the airport was going beyond the recommendations of the Davies Commission and he was confident they can create a "cleaner, quieter Heathrow delivering more for the UK economy and that clears the way for the prime minister to make the right choice to expand Heathrow and deliver a stronger economy".

But opponents distrust its assurances, saying the airport's owners previously ruled out a new runway in exchange for building Terminal 5.

Heathrow's just played its ace.

The airport's gone further than many people expected in this latest bid to convince MPs, the government, and locals, that it should have a third runway.

In the past, Conservative Zac Goldsmith has said he'd resign as an MP if ministers went with Heathrow. Other cabinet members are known to oppose the scheme. It's not clear yet whether these concessions are enough to sway any of their opinions.

Then there's the locals, who always tell me that Heathrow has a habit of breaking promises.

Twenty years ago the airport vowed it would permanently rule out a third runway if only it could build terminal five.

That vow soon went out of the window.

Heathrow said it will allow a longer quiet period overnight, with flights not allowed to land between 11pm and 5:30am, from their current 11.30pm finish and 4.30am start.

The Davies Commission recommended there should be no night flights between 11.30pm to 6am.

John Stewart, Chair of the anti-noise group HACAN ClearSkies, accepted Heathrow was offering a concession on nights flights but said people will be disappointed that the ban will not be extended to 6.00am.

He also questioned whether Heathrow was in a position to reduce air pollution.

"The bigger problem with air pollution is most of it comes from traffic and it's out of Heathrow's control to deal with air pollution from traffic. They can't really guarantee that air pollution levels can be brought down to EU legal limits," he added.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: " We have had no more cars on the road over the last 25 years even though Heathrow has almost doubled in the last 25 years and that is because we've invested in better road connections, better bus services and better rail services and that is part of our plan.

"We can make sure Heathrow expands within EU air quality limits."

Mr Holland-Kaye blamed diesel vehicles for air pollution and said he was writing to the new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan to request that he extended the ultra-low emission zone to the M25.

He said they were working to make Heathrow an ultra-low omissions zone and by 2025 aimed to have only electric fleet vehicles on site.

The Commons' Transport Select Committee published a report last week which urged ministers to set out a clear timetable for airport expansion

The plan involves building a new 3,500m runway about two miles north of the two runways Heathrow already has at an estimated cost of £18.6bn.




May 2016