Heathrow airport has proposed 'radical' new measures to tackle emissions at the hub, including a potential £15 charge for vehicles entering car parks and drop-off areas.
As the airport continues to set out plans for building its third runway, it says this could include what it calls the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to mirror a similar scheme introduced in central London in April.
Under the plans, which would see the ULEZ imposed from 2022, vehicles entering car parks and drop-off areas around the airport will have to meet minimum emissions standards. The restriction will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Over time, Heathrow says the ULEZ will transition into a vehicle access charge (VAC) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles, which could be set as high as £15 in line with the fee in London.
Heathrow claims the move is part of a plan “to tackle the main source of local air pollution – road vehicles – and reduce congestion by encouraging more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport”.
The airport is also implementing changes from next week to reduce the number of staff car trips, including incentives, restraints on parking and investment in new public transport links. Heathrow claims it has invested more than £1 billion in rail infrastructure and also provides £2.5 million a year to encourage the use of public transport through the airport free travel zone, support for bus services and contributions to local sustainable transport schemes.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye commented: “Heathrow expansion is not a choice between the economy and the environment – we must deliver for both. Today’s announcement shows that we will take the tough decision to ensure that the airport grows responsibly.”
Val Shawcross, former London deputy mayor and now chair of the independent Heathrow Transport Area Forum, added: “This is a significant step change in Heathrow’s effort to clean up local ground-level air pollution by shifting people into the cleanest modes of transport. I have never pulled my punches talking to the airport about local air quality and I look forward to continuing to hold Heathrow to account in my new independent role as chair of the chair of the Heathrow Area Transport Forum.”
The news comes after several campaign groups, including environmental organisations, lost a court battle to launch a legal review of the government’s decision to approve Heathrow’s third runway. Some climate change groups say expanding the airport would lead to increased emissions.
Plans for the ULEZ and VAC will be included in a statutory consultation on Heathrow’s masterplan for expansion, which will be launched on 18 June.
Read the full statement here