Managing impacts

Air quality

We understand that air quality is a real concern that needs to be tackled urgently in London and the South East for the sake of people’s health.

Heathrow has a good track record when it comes to improving our effect on air quality – in fact, we cut ground-based emissions by 16% over 5 years.

All of the air quality monitoring stations in the immediate vicinity of Heathrow meet local air quality objectives. There are two sites that do not meet those standards located just under 2kms from the airport, beside major road junctions, this is illustrated below. At these two locations, airport-related emissions contribute less than 16 per cent to the total. These demonstrate the broader problem London and the South-East faces with traffic pollution.


Aircraft themselves have little impact on local air quality. Pollution from aircraft once in the air disperses rapidly in the atmosphere with very little contribution to local air quality, and once aircraft climb above 500-600ft, the contribution that they make is negligible.

Air quality and expansion

We have been clear that we will only expand Heathrow in accordance with air quality rules and have made a commitment of no more airport-related road traffic with a third runway.

History proves this is possible. Over the last 20 years, Heathrow’s passenger numbers have risen by almost 80 per cent yet airport related road traffic has remained broadly static.


New train links such as Crossrail, High Speed Rail (HS2), Western Rail Access, Southern Rail Access and upgrades to the Piccadilly Line will treble Heathrow’s rail capacity by 2040 and enable 30 million more passengers to use public transport.

We have also set out a number of options to improve air quality around the airport for example the introduction of an emissions charging zone. The charge, which would be subject to public consultation, would only apply to vehicles travelling to and from Heathrow. It is proposed that the money raised from the charge would be used to fund local public transport improvements, cycling infrastructure, additional electric vehicle charging points and promoting incentives to switch to electric or hybrid cars.

As part of our consultation and application, we will assess what the likely air quality impacts of our scheme will be. Our measures to mitigate air quality impacts will also be consulted upon.

Playing our part

Heathrow is fully committed to playing its part in combating air pollution with London meeting air quality limits and working in partnership with the Government to achieve compliance with EU legislation as soon as possible.

The Airports Commission confirmed that Heathrow expansion can comply with air quality law and we would expect an Airports National Policy Statement to make clear the air quality requirements expansion should meet.

Want to know more?

Click here to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we get asked about the property compensation and noise mitigation schemes.

If you still have questions or want more information, you can contact our team.

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