News from Murad Qureshi (past staff): London Assembly restates opposition to extra runways at Heathrow

10 May 2013

Following the publication of the Transport Select Committee report today, which backed expansion at Heathrow, the London Assembly today restates its view that new runways at Heathrow should not be built because of concerns about air quality and noise pollution.

The Assembly has consistently opposed proposals for expansion at London Heathrow on the grounds that the negative environmental effects are disproportionate to the estimated benefits it would bring to London[1].

An estimated 700,000 Londoners suffer from noise pollution as a result of Heathrow, and this accounts for 28 per cent of all the people in Europe who are affected by aircraft noise[2].

The Assembly’s Environment Committee has warned that there has been little improvement in pollution levels around Heathrow for more than a decade and areas around the airport already breach European Union air quality limits[3].

Recently, the Assembly’s Transport Committee report – Airport Capacity in London – concluded that as some London airports were using less than half their existing runway capacity, the Davies commission should first look at ways to use this capacity more effectively. For example, by building better rail connections and promoting public transport use[4].

Valarie Shawcross AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said:

“There is strong evidence that there is scope to make better use of London’s existing airports, including at Heathrow, to improve the capital’s connectivity, before any airport expansion. Many runways slots in London are currently available – for example, Luton and Stansted Airports have around half their slots free – and we hope that the Davies Commission will address this in its work. The Commission should consider how ideas, such as improved transport to other airports, could encourage passengers to use this existing capacity.

“As elected representatives for London, having examined these issues in-depth, we are in a unique position to accurately reflect and understand the needs of Londoners. It is essential that London’s thriving economy is supported, but not at the expense of the health of the thousands of residents that live under Heathrow Airport’s flight paths.”


Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the Environment Committee, said:

“We have previously warned that key safeguards set by the Government to limit the environmental impact of a potential third runway at Heathrow may not be fit for purpose.

“This is a serious issue because poor air quality in London is responsible for the early deaths of at least 4,000 people a year in the capital and the area around Heathrow is the second worst area in London for poor air quality.

”It is also unacceptable that thousands of Londoners are unable to get a good night’s sleep and local children’s lessons are interrupted because of planes flying over the capital to land at Heathrow.”


Notes to Editor

  1. Press releases – Assembly says no to revival of third runway at Heathrow; Bring forward publication of airport capacity report, Assembly urges
  2. Environment Committee’s Plane Speaking report, March 2012
  3. Previous reports by the Environmental Committee include: Plane Speaking (2012); Flights of Fancy – Can an expanded Heathrow meet its environmental targets? (2010); Letter to Government re Aviation Policy Framework (7 May 2013); Response to Aviation Policy Framework (October 2012)
  4. Airport Capacity in London – Transport Committee
  5. The Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, will produce an interim report by December 2013 with recommendations for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next five years.
  6. Valerie Shawcross AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, and Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the Environment Committee, are available for interview. See contact details below.
  7. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Sheena Craig in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4603/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.


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