Local overview – Air quality

Expanding Heathrow could mean changes in local air quality and odour. We are committed to manage and mitigate effects.

Aircraft flying into and out of the airport do not have a significant effect on air quality in the local area. This is because aircraft are so high that emissions are dispersed before reaching on the ground.

Emissions from non-airport related road traffic are the main source of pollutants outside the airport which affect the quality of the air in local communities.

We have been working to improve air quality for many years with other companies that use the airport.

The expanded airport will be designed to reduce emissions and our plans include ways to manage:

  • the way that people travel to the airport by increasing the use of public transport.
  • the use of cleaner, more sustainable vehicles.
  • emissions from older, more polluting cars by introducing a Heathrow Ultra Low Emission Zone to charge these vehicles to access the airport.

What we need to do

We are carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This assesses the likely significant effects of expanding Heathrow, including those relating to air quality and odour. It will also identify measures that will be put in place to avoid, reduce or mitigate effects.

Potential effects and proposed mitigation

  • Dust and odour from construction activity may affect people living or working nearby: We will reduce the risk of dust and odour during construction. We will do this through measures which are written into a Code of Construction Practice (CoCP).
  • Odour from the operation of the airport may affect people living or working nearby: Activities which create odour will be located away from communities where possible.
  • There may be changes in air quality experienced by people living near the airport and the nearby roads:
    • Our detailed surface access proposals will ensure that we effectively manage airport-related traffic. We will do this by encouraging the use of sustainable transport such as public transport and cycling and reducing car trips by staff, as required by the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). We are also looking to introduce a road user charge to incentivise public transport use, this is known as the Heathrow Ultra-Low Emissions Zone.
    • Our proposals include measures to encourage the use of low emission technologies. These include electric vehicle charging points in the new car parks we will build. We will also provide electric power for aircraft to use when stood still.
    • It is our aim for the airport to operate as efficiently as possible in order to reduce pollution. We aim to do this by reducing the distances aircraft need to travel on the ground.
    • We will manage emissions from construction vehicles and other construction machinery. These activities will be written into the Code
      of Construction Practice (CoCP).