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Heathrow (Air Quality)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 18th March 2010.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 10:30 am, 18th March 2010

What his most recent assessment is of the likely effects on air quality in the area of a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

The Department for Transport published its latest assessment of the likely effects of a third runway at Heathrow Airport on local air quality in the "Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport-Impact Assessment" document in January 2009. A copy of the impact assessment and earlier technical reports on the air quality modelling have all been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

We are already in breach of European air quality directives. Does the Minister not accept that, as a result of the extension of the third runway, air and surface pollution will increase and it will be impossible for us to meet our air quality obligations?

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

No, I do not accept that. When in January 2009 we announced our decision to proceed with the third runway at Heathrow, we made it clear that we would have in place stringent requirements on air and noise pollution. We have worked with the Committee on Climate Change, which has indicated that, even at the most pessimistic level, we would be in a position to meet growth in passenger numbers of some 60 per cent., or a 54 per cent. increase in flights. However, we have made it clear that we will have in place a legally binding agreement that there will be no further expansion beyond 2020 without ensuring that we are on target to meet the stringent requirements that we set out.

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The question asked about air quality and probably referred to justifiable concern over nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollutants. Paul Clark answered about carbon dioxide emissions and climate change effects. There are still many unanswered questions as to how Heathrow expansion can be achieved without breaching EU limits and as to the detailed understanding of the air quality modelling carried out in...

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Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Shadow Minister (Transport)

Given that the EU has already-in December-thrown out the Government's shameful application for an exemption on particulate matter, which is especially dangerous in relation to respiratory diseases, do the Government really propose to go ahead with an application on nitrogen oxides?

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

We certainly believe that we should continue, because what we cannot do is put at risk UK plc and the requirements of businesses in this country, or bury our heads in the sand about the requirements for aviation. At the same time, however, we have to make sure that we meet the stringent requirements on environmental pollution and noise levels for all concerned that we set out in our announcement in January. It is important that, instead of suggesting that we do not need to meet the requirements of those who require aviation services, we meet the challenge, show leadership and go forward.

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