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Assembly to hear latest on air quality and noise pollution around Heathrow Airport

14 October 2011

Are existing measures to improve air quality and mitigate problems with aircraft noise around Heathrow airport effective, or should more be done?

The London Assembly Environment Committee will next week[1] hold a meeting to discuss environmental issues at the country's busiest airport with a range of key organisations. 

London Heathrow Airport (LHA) handles around 66 million passengers each year and is surrounded by suburban housing, business premises, open land and three large reservoirs. LHA’s two runways, five passenger terminals[2] and one cargo terminal are owned and managed by BAA Limited.

Representatives of BAA, the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN), London borough of Hounslow, Transport for London and an air quality consultancy will attend on 20 October 2011 to answer questions. 

Murad Qureshi, Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, said:  “We have investigated air and noise pollution around Heathrow extensively over the past six years[3] to try to ensure those responsible are keeping it in check.

“Poor air quality can contribute to serious ill-health and premature death, while noise pollution can have a negative effect on the lives of people living and working close to Heathrow airport.”

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particles (PM10 and PM2.5) are the main air pollutants of concern because of their potential harmful effects on health and the environment.  Greater London is one of 40 air quality zones that failed to meet the 1 January 2010 deadline for complying with EU limits for NO2

It is anticipated that measures included in the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy[4] will make a significant difference in reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) but, despite this, GLA modelling shows areas around Heathrow will continue to exceed limits. Heathrow airport is expected to shortly publish its air quality strategy and action plan for the next five years.

The Committee will also look at noise caused by aircraft, which can affect the daily lives and sleep of nearby residents, and BAA Heathrow’s Noise Action Plan[5] to manage the impacts of aircraft noise over the next five years. Night flights, for which the current agreement on how they are managed and limited will end in October 2012, will also form part of the Committee’s work.

Notes for Editors:

  1. The Environment Committee meeting will take place on Thursday 20 October from 10am in Committee Room 5 at City Hall (The Queen’s Walk, London SE1).
  2. Terminal 2 is currently closed for construction
  3. The Committee contributed to Assembly-wide responses to BAA Heathrow and Government consultations on proposals to expand Heathrow.  It also published a report, Flights of Fancy: can an expanded Heathrow meet its environmental targets (January 2010), on the environmental conditions the previous Government set as a pre-requisite for building a third runway at Heathrow
  4. Read the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy
  5. Find out more about BAA Heathrow’s Noise Action Plan
  6. Find out more about the Committee’s work on Heathrow airport
  7. Full agenda papers for the meeting are available.
  8. The Chair of the Environment Committee, Murad Qureshi AM, is available for interview.  See contact details below.
  9. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Julie Wheldon/Lisa Moore on 020 7983 4228/4283.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.