Heathrow suggests congestion charge for vehicles – to try and keep within air quality limits
Heathrow will announce its north- west runway plan on Tuesday 13th May. They have no interest in the Jock Lowe Heathrow Hub option. Heathrow is aware that as well as noise, air pollution is a show – stopper issue for their hopes of a new runway. Hence they are now suggesting to the Airports Commission that there should be a congestion charge for people travelling to Heathrow by car – after the public transport has been set up (largely at public expense). Some of the money raised may go towards public transport. Heathrow is trying to make out there will not only be no more noise caused by a 3rd runway, but no more road vehicles than now. They depend on emissions standards for NOx for new cars becoming tighter in future. Expansion of Heathrow would mean massive road congestion in the area. The Standard reports that Heathrow is moving its planned north-west runway slightly south, in order to avoid the M25 and M4 junction. To make way for the new runway to the north west of the airport, Heathrow will build a 600-metre tunnel taking traffic under the M25. A tunnel would run alongside the motorway – and be part-funded by Government.
Heathrow congestion charge could be used to fund public transport improvements
Heathrow Airport will say to the Airports Commission this month that there may be a case for introducing a congestion charge for people travelling to the airport once improvements in public transport have been delivered.
A congestion charge would reduce traffic congestion levels and improve air quality for local communities while raising money for public transport improvements. The scheme would help ensure there are no more airport related vehicles on the road with a third runway than there are today.
Heathrow has made a commitment to increase the proportion of passengers who use public transport to access the airport from 40% today to more than 50% by 2030. A charge would provide a simple mechanism for managing demand and would future-proof Heathrow’s ability to meet air quality limits and minimise traffic on local roads in a wide range of possible scenarios.
Major new public transport schemes are due to be delivered in the next few years. Crossrail will connect the airport to the City and East London; a Piccadilly Line upgrade will provide improved frequency and faster journey times for London Underground passengers; Western Rail Access will provide fast direct access to Heathrow for passengers from Slough, Reading and the Thames Valley as well as improve journey times to the South West and South Wales; Southern Rail Access would provide a new direct connection to south-west London and improve journey times to the south coast. High Speed 2 will connect Heathrow via Old Oak Common to the Midlands and the North.
A congestion charge would help to discourage drop off and pick up and would apply only for those travelling to the airport – not to surrounding roads like the A30, A4, M4 or M25. Heathrow envisages that there could be exemptions in place for the greenest vehicles, taxis and for local residents, although this would be subject to future consultation. Funds could be ring-fenced to contribute towards major rail, London Underground and road improvements, as well as pay for further sustainable travel initiatives, public transport schemes and community transport improvements.
Heathrow Head of Surface Access Simon Earles said:
“During our recent community consultation people raised concerns about the impact of a new runway on traffic congestion and air pollution. Once improvements to public transport to the airport have been delivered we believe there may be a case for a congestion charge for passengers travelling to the airport to reduce congestion, improve air quality, and raise money for further public transport improvements. The idea is at an early stage and we will of course consult on these plans at the appropriate time.”
Vehicles travelling to the airport will be cleaner [“cleaner” is a silly euphemism that usually means lower carbon – probably used here to refer to NOx too] in future as planned vehicle emissions standards come into force over the next few years. Combined with new aircraft technology this means that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) would be within EU limits with a third runway. Levels of fine particles (PM10 and PM2.5) are already within EU limits around the airport and will remain so with a third runway.
Heathrow operates a clean vehicles programme to promote low and zero emissions vehicles among airport companies. The airport also hosts the UK’s first publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling site and is increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points at its passenger car parks. We have pioneered the use of electric passenger rapid transit (PRT) pods instead of buses between Terminal 5 and its business car park. We also operate the world’s largest car sharing scheme and have an award-winning cycle hub for employees. The UK Government is forecasting a significant increase in alternatively powered vehicles, like electric cars in the years ahead.
Notes to editors
Congestion charging has become popular at other cities since being introduced in London in 2003. Some examples where charging systems have been implemented include Stockholm (2006), Santiago (2007), Oslo (2011) Milan (2012) and Gothenburg (2013). More are planned globally, with Brazil voting in legislation last year for a system to be implemented in Sao Paulo and plans afoot in China. Forecourt charging is already commonplace at many UK airports. The London congestion zone has directly resulted in an extra £1.2bn being invested in London’s transport through ring-fenced funds.
More information about air quality near Heathrow is available at: http://www.heathrowairwatch.org.uk/
More information about what Heathrow is doing today to reduce air pollution is available at:http://mediacentre.heathrowairport.com/ImageLibrary/downloadmedia.ashx?MediaDetailsID=2004&SizeId=-1