In October, last year, the Government announced its support for a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport, in November, the Environmental Audit Committee published an interim report and followed up with a further report on 7th February. It stated that ‘The government must prove that a 3rd runway at Heathrow breach carbon budgets or exceed legal air pollution limits’.

It states that the government needs to produce a clear emissions reduction strategy that will allow the UKs carbon budgets to be met.

Air quality and noise pollution

Post-Brexit the government have been urged to not allow air quality standards to be watered down. Following a recent High Court ruling, the government must produce a new air quality strategy to show that the planned Heathrow Expansion can be delivered within air legal limits.

The plan should include how they intend to avoid an increase in serious breaches in several EU air quality limits.

There should also be a clear plan with a fair assessment of the costs of expected improvements of required transport. The report also indicates that they have previously reported that the government must provide the UK with the equivalent or improved levels of environmental protections after the UK leaves the EU.

The government must be clear and concise about plans to maintain or improve upon current air quality standards. Despite the warnings, the government has stated that the ‘plans’ can be delivered within emissions limits, unfortunately, they have neither stated or decided what these limits are.

Their revised aviation strategy must be clear in its approach to reducing emissions.

Within the report, it states that for the government to minimise the impacts of noise pollution on local communities, they must proceed with the recommendations presented by the Airports Commission, to provide predictable respite and the timing of a night flight ban.

As it stands the governments noise pollution strategy lacks ambition, with the need for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority.

A clear strategy required

What the government plans to do is unclear but the report shows that the government have been severely lacking in their approach to air quality. With London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, promising to reduce air pollution in London, the government could undermine his attempts by pushing through the expansion to Heathrow without a clear strategy of reducing emissions and delivering such a project within air pollution legal limits.

Furthermore, the Airport Commissions report by the Environmental Audit Committee, which has a cross-party membership, has explicitly stated “We have seen little evidence so far of the “step change” in the Government’s approach to environmental mitigation which we called for in our interim report”. The government must come up with a plan otherwise it could cause the UK to regress in tackling climate change and cause a significant loss to the UKs eco-system.