We are committed to better understanding and reducing the effects of expansion on wildlife habitats and species, known as biodiversity. As part of this, we have set ourselves an objective to achieve a net gain in biodiversity, with more wildlife habitat than before expansion.

Our preliminary assessment has considered the designated wildlife sites, habitats and species within the area that expansion could affect.

Aspects of our proposals that could cause effects

The construction of the new runway, terminals and aprons, together with the works required to divert and construct new local road connections and rivers and provide supporting infrastructure, will result in direct physical effects as well as indirect effects on biodiversity.

These effects are more likely to occur during construction, but some may happen during the operation of the expanded airport. The increased number of flights that will use an expanded Heathrow will also result in additional noise that may disturb wildlife.

A summary of the effects reported in the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR)

The construction activity associated with the Project will result in the loss of some habitats across the area, including within the Colne Valley Regional Park, Staines Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest and a number of Local Wildlife Sites. This habitat loss will also result in wildlife being lost or displaced from areas on which they have depended for foraging, sheltering or as movement corridors.

The presence of people, artificial lighting and the noise associated with activities during both construction and operation of the airport will also result in the displacement of wildlife. Although this does not always mean loss of habitats it can effectively stop some wildlife from using these areas.

New structures and buildings will change the distribution of water (either within the ground or moving across the surface) in the environment. Structures such as basements, the lining of new river channels and the control of water running off new sealed surfaces can all change the water environment locally. For some habitats this can alter their nature and result in a transition between different forms (for example a change from a wet woodland to a dry woodland, thereby changing the associated plants and animals). The use of road vehicles, specialist equipment and aircraft all lead to the production of exhaust emissions. These emissions all include nitrogen oxides that can damage plants, as well as adding additional nutrients to the system. These additional nutrients favour certain habitat types over others (for example adding nutrients to heathland encourages grasses to become more dominant).

Measures for reducing potential effects

The design of the Project includes large areas of multi-functional green infrastructure that will be created to benefit both wildlife and people. The areas of green infrastructure will be designed to increase the connectivity of the semi-natural habitats within the locality, whilst providing high quality habitats for sheltering and foraging.

Our commitment to biodiversity net gain for the Project will be demonstrated through the use of biodiversity offsetting. This allows for the losses associated with the construction and operation of the Project and the gains to be made through the delivery of green infrastructure to be measured and reported in a consistent and transparent way.

Biodiversity offsetting

Biodiversity offsets are conservation activities that are designed to give biodiversity benefi ts to compensate for losses – ensuring that when a development damages nature (and this damage cannot be avoided or mitigated) new nature sites will be created.

The types of habitats provided will be suitable for bats, otters, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, as well as a wide range of other flora and fauna. These habitats will be delivered, monitored and managed in the long term to ensure habitats lost to the development are able to be replaced or compensated and that the commitment to biodiversity net gain is met.

In addition to the green infrastructure described within the consultation documents, Heathrow is actively speaking with a number of potential partners to deliver additional green infrastructure in the wider area.

Have your say

We want to know what you think about our proposals to manage the environmental effects of expansion and, in particular:

  • whether there are any other initiatives or proposals that we should consider to address the emissions from airport related traffic or airport operations;
  • our proposals to help health and well-being, in particular whether there are any proposals that you think we should consider to address the effect of the Project on the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, neighbours and passengers;
  • our noise insulation schemes;
  • what factors are most important as we develop our proposals for noise management, in particular our proposals for the design and implementation of a noise envelope;
  • our proposals for maximising new jobs and training, in particular, whether there are any other ways that we can maximise skills and training opportunities to benefit our local communities;
  • on our approach to addressing effects on the historic environment, including any particular proposals you would like us to consider.

To respond to our proposals please answer the overarching question on the Environmental Introduction page.

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