|Air Pollution Ruling 'Show-Stopper' for Third Runway|
Supreme Court rules Government must crack down on pollution
Campaigners against the expansion of Heathrow airport are claiming that a legal judgment this week could put paid to plans to expand Heathrow airport.
In a unanimous verdict, five judges on the Supreme Court ordered the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to consult on strict new air pollution plans that must be submitted to the European Commission no later than 31 December 2015.
The plans require the Government crack down on the UK's high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. The judgment could have implications for a third runway at Heathrow according to HACAN. They say areas around the airport continue to be stubbornly above the EU legal limits. It is down to a combination of pollution from the planes and the amount of traffic on the M4 and M25. It is the only airport in the UK where the EU limits are breached or are likely to be so in the future.
Lord Carnwath said the court was "in no doubt about the seriousness" of the UK's breach of EU law in failing to meet legal pollution limits, which leaves it open to the risk of European Commission fines totalling £300m. The EU Air Quality Directive demanded the UK brought pollution down to legal limits by 2010 or apply for an extension by 2015. But the government in 2011 said that a number of areas, including London, would be unable to comply by 2015 and instead argued the law allowed it to comply "as soon as possible".
They also plan a £5 million upgrade to the short-term car parking infrastructure as well as a switch to electric or hybrid for their own cars.
Along with TfL, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Highways Agency they say they will introduce a regional strategy for air quality focused on emissions from buses.
A Heathrow spokesperson said, “We agree that Heathrow’s expansion should only go ahead within strict environmental limits on local air quality. Heathrow already has a good track record, we have cut emissions by 16% in the last 5 years, and we recently announced plans to lower them further by replacing diesel vehicles on the airport with alternative technologies and increase incentives our airlines to operate their cleanest planes here.
Heathrow Airport chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said, “We have a good track record in reducing emissions, now we will go even further and continue to work with partners to reduce emissions in the roads around Heathrow. We have ambitions to be one of the most responsible airports in the world, and the best neighbour we can be to our local communities.”
May 1, 2015