GACC response to Airports Commission: Gatwick runway could breach EU pollution law
GACC, in their submission to the Airports Commission, predict that pollution levels around the airport could become much worse than the Commission forecast. They point to a judgement by the Supreme Court on 29th April that the UK Government must enforce the EU Directive 2008/50/EC on Air Quality. A clause in Directive states that: “Air quality status should be maintained where it is already good, or improved” and limit values must not be exceeded once attained. According to GACC chairman, Brendon Sewill: “The Airports Commission are seriously underestimating future pollution levels. First they are looking at 2030 when the new runway would only be half full; and second, their estimates of future road traffic are only about half of what would be created by an airport larger than Heathrow today. There will be around 100,000 extra cars per day in the Gatwick area plus a ten-fold increase in freight and commercial vehicles – all adding to pollution.” The Airports Commission expects the Gatwick runway scheme would mean higher mean NO2 concentrations for about 21,000 properties. There have been many studies of the adverse impact on health of NO2 and other pollutants from aircraft and vehicles, particularly for those with respiratory diseases.
Gatwick runway could breach EU pollution law
27.5.2015 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
GACC, in their submission to the Airports Commission this week, ( Air quality response GACC ) predict that pollution levels around the airport could become much worse than the Commission forecast.
They point to a judgement by the Supreme Court on 29th April that the UK Government must enforce the EU Directive on Air Quality, and to a clause in the Directive which states that: Air quality status should be maintained where it is already good, or improved.
According to GACC chairman, Brendon Sewill: ‘The Airports Commission are seriously underestimating future pollution levels. First they are looking at 2030 when the new runway would only be half full; and second, their estimates of future road traffic are only about half of what would be created by an airport larger than Heathrow today. There will be around 100,000 extra cars per day in the Gatwick area plus a ten-fold increase in freight and commercial vehicles – all adding to pollution.’
There have been many studies of the adverse impact on health of NO2 and other pollutants from aircraft and vehicles, particularly for those with respiratory diseases. GACC quotes doctors who draw attention to the above average incidence of asthma among the Asian population in Crawley. Also a new American study showing that pollution could mean 10,000 extra cases per year of Alzheimer’s in the UK.
The consultation by the Airports Commission on Air Quality closes at mid-day on Friday 29th May.
GACC’s response is here. Air quality response GACC May 2015
UK Supreme Court orders Government to take “immediate action” on air pollution
29 April 2015 (Client Earth)
The UK Supreme Court has quashed the Government’s ineffective plans to cut illegal levels of air pollution in Britain and ordered it to deliver new ones by the end of the year.
The Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in their decision, handed down this morning, saying: “The new Government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.”
The historic ruling is the culmination of a five year legal battle fought by ClientEarth for the right of British people to breathe clean air.
The ruling will save thousands of lives a year by forcing the Government to urgently clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of nitrogen nioxide found in many of the UK’s towns and cities.
ClientEarth Lawyer Alan Andrews said: “Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people in this country every year. We brought our case because we have a right to breathe clean air and today the Supreme Court has upheld that right.
“This ruling will benefit everyone’s health but particularly children, older people and those with existing health conditions like asthma and heart and lung disease.
“The next Government, regardless of the political party or parties which take power, is now legally bound to take urgent action on this public health crisis. Before next week’s election all political parties need to make a clear commitment to policies which will deliver clean air and protect our health.”
The Supreme Court ruling means the Government must start work on a comprehensive plan to meet pollution limits as soon as possible. Among the measures that it must consider are low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives.
ClientEarth is calling for action to clean up the worst polluting diesel vehicles, including through a national network of low emission zones.
Clean Air in London respond to Commission consultation – Heathrow or Gatwick runway would breach air pollution laws
Clean Air in London (CAL) has made its response to the Airports Commission’s air pollution consultation (ends 29th May). They make 2 key points – that either runway at Heathrow would cause aggravated breaches of the NO2 annual limit value, in 2030 (and perhaps other timescales) and therefore be unlawful; and that a runway at Gatwick would not be consistent with sustainable development, as it would worsen air quality. The Airports Commission expects the Heathrow north west runway scheme would mean worse air quality, (in terms of annual mean NO2 concentrations) at about 47,000 properties, and 39,000 for the Hub ENR runway scheme; and at about 21,000 properties for the Gatwick runway. For Gatwick to do this would not be consistent with the duty on Member States under Directive 2008/50/EC to maintain the levels below the limit values. Under Directive 2008/50/EC NO2 limit values must not be exceeded once attained; and where air quality is ‘good’, Article 12 of the directive applies i.e. Member States shall not only maintain the levels below the limit values but also “endeavour to preserve the best ambient air quality compatible with sustainable development”. Clean Air in London response here.
Airports Commission rushes out new technical consultation (for just 3 weeks) on air quality
The Airports Commission has, at the last minute, produced a very short (only 3 weeks) consultation on air quality. It says this was not done earlier due to the pre-election “purdah” period when there are restrictions on activities such as consultations by government. The timing, shortly after the ruling by the Supreme Court, that more has to be done by the UK on air quality may, or may not, be coincidental. The consultation ends on 29th May. The Commission aims to make its runway recommendation in June, before Sir Howard starts work at RBS (joining its board at the end of June). The consultation outline is given in a cover note, with one main document, an appendix document, 10 pages of maps, and databases of backing data – over 280 pages. All to be checked through in 21 days, including a Bank Holiday. The November 2014 consultation stated that dispersion modelling still needed to be done. That was not included in time for the main consultation. The Commission has now found some differences between the two Heathrow options. It has looked at a range of “mitigation measures” to reduce the level of NO2, and considers whether these would be enough to keep within legal limits. It is a technical consultation, very difficult for lay people – who are not expert in the area of air quality – to understand.
Aviation Environment Federation response to Airports Commission air quality consultation