Ruth Cadbury MP says Heathrow low emission zone would be ‘unenforceable’

The new Labour MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury, says banning all but greenest vehicles from roads around Heathrow would have a “serious impact” on the local economy. Heathrow has suggested that a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) around the airport might be introduced, or even an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in order to try and keep emissions low enough that they could add another runway.  There is a LEZ – not a ULEZ – that has been operation in London, since 2008.  That restricts the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles driving in the capital.  A ULEZ, by contrast, means all but the lowest emission vehicles are excluded.  Ruth Cadbury says that to be effective, a ULEZ around Heathrow “would have to be so enormous it would have a serious impact on the economy of the Thames Valley area and would be virtually unenforceable.” Ruth believed the impact of non-ULEZ planned public transport improvements on reducing harmful emissions was “not going to be very significant”. She questioned whether a ULEZ scheme, which would require Transport for London’s approval, could ever happen. She was speaking at a parliamentary debate at Westminster Hall on air pollution on 9th June (called by Diane Abbott).



Heathrow low emission zone ‘unenforceable’, claims MP

11.6.2015  (Get West London)


MP Ruth Cadbury says banning all but greenest vehicles from roads around the airport would have a “serious impact” on the local economy

MP Ruth Cadbury speaking during the Westminster Hall debate

A proposed ultra low emission zone around Heathrow would be “virtually unenforceable”, an MP has claimed.

Bosses at the airport revealed recently they were looking into creating a zone similar to that which already exists in central London, excluding all but the greenest vehicles.

The measure was part of Heathrow’s recently published 10-point action plan to tackle pollution, which exceeds EU limits to the north of the airport.

But Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury this week questioned whether such a scheme, which would require Transport for London‘s approval, could ever happen.

Speaking on Tuesday (June 9), in a parliamentary debate at Westminster Hall on air pollution, she said the impact of planned public transport improvements on reducing harmful emissions was “not going to be very significant”.

“More extreme measures have been suggested,” she added. “Clean Air London talks about an ultra low emissions zone around Heathrow, but to be effective that zone would have to be so enormous it would have a serious impact on the economy of the Thames Valley area and would be virtually unenforceable.”

She said smog from Heathrow-related traffic on the A4 and M4 was not just a silent killer, causing respiratory illness and morbidity, but was also responsible for the “greasy dirt” found on her constituents’ washing, cars and garden furniture.

“It’s quite clear that on air quality grounds alone, expansion at Heathrow can’t go ahead because of the breaches of EU air quality legislation that would entail,” she said.

Heathrow claims the vast majority of traffic on surrounding roads including the M4 is not connected to the airport but says it is taking steps to make the airport greener.

It claims forecasts by the Airports Commission, which is weighing up rival bids for expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick, show EU pollution thresholds could be met even with a third runway.

But chiefs at Gatwick Airport recently claimed a third runway would be “unlawful” as it would increase pollution around the airport.



The Low Emission Zone in central London

The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) covers most of Greater London and operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It was introduced in 2008 to encourage the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles driving in the Capital to become cleaner.

See also:

Heathrow hopes of cutting NO2 by congestion charge etc could transfer air quality problems to other areas

April 20, 2015

Gatwick Airport commissioned a report by ERM to show up the air quality problems at Heathrow, making a 3rd Heathrow a practical impossibility. The ERM report says the air quality mitigations proposed for a Heathrow 3rd runway are too vague to be properly evaluated or quantified in any detail. As the majority of the air pollution is due to road vehicles, many on trips associated with the airport, there needs to be credible detail on how this could be cut.  Heathrow has suggested various ways to make small airside cuts in NO2 emissions, and possible measure like incentives for access to the airport by zero or ultra-low emission vehicles. Also, as a last resort, the use of a congestion charge to drive down airport-only related road traffic. But the measures lack the necessary implementation specifics to make them meaningful.  Neither do the proposals address the potential consequential effects on road traffic distribution in the wider area around Heathrow. It could well be that the introduction of these sorts of Heathrow traffic measures results in shifts in road traffic congestion, and therefore the transfer the air quality problems to other areas. Just pushing the problem somewhere else.





Diane Abbott MP: Dramatic action is necessary to tackle London’s lethal air

9.6.2015 (Politics Home)

Labour’s London Mayoral contender Diane Abbott writes ahead of her Westminster Hall debate on Air pollution in London.

The fight to cut air pollution in London is literally a life and death matter.  With the highest levels of air pollution of any European capital, thousands of Londoners are dying prematurely every year from lethal doses of pollution in the very air we breathe.

As a hopeful candidate to become Mayor of London in 2016 I understand that provision of a healthy and clean living environment is critical to London’s future.

The links between air pollution and afflictions such as bronchitis, asthma, strokes, cancer and heart disease are unequivocal. Moreover, children growing up near busy roads in London have been clinically proven to develop smaller lung capacity and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.

In the face of such an urgent crisis Central Government and City Hall have abjectly failed in their duty to protect Londoners from such a severe public health risk.

DEFRA currently predicts that the Greater London area won’t fall in line with EU limits on air pollution until after 2030.  The stunning human cost of this will be a bloody stain on Boris Johnson’s record as Mayor of London, as with executive powers over transport in the capital, he has a direct opportunity to tackle the issue and to save lives.

Instead his approach has been inadmissibly weak. His repeated backward steps on the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which now won’t be introduced until 2020, are a stunning indictment of his lacklustre efforts to solve the issue of toxic fumes. We must demand a bigger, stronger, sooner ULEZ by 2018, or face the deathly consequences.

There has been a big debate in recent years about the issue of airport expansion and with airport related traffic being a major contributor to air pollution in London, it is essential that the issue is treated with the utmost care. The Airports Commission has been thorough in their assessment and noted that both schemes for airport expansion at Heathrow would cause aggravated breaches of the NO2 annual mean limit value in 2030 and what’s more, perhaps cause the worsening of NO2 levels where limit values will already be exceeded.  With the current dire state of London’s air quality serious questions must be asked about whether airport expansion is compatible with improving public health and working to ensure London is a cleaner, greener, and more liveable city.

I believe that an incoming Mayor of London can realise the goal of making London the world’s greenest capital city. This is achievable with a comprehensive overhaul in the culture of city planning. We must insist that sustainability forms the core tenets in all sectors of planning, from transport, housing, education to business. By making a London a more open, greener and more pedestrian and cycle friendly city, not only will we save lives, but cement London’s future prosperity that is currently under threat from a lethal smog.


Heathrow plans ultra low emission zone


A 10-point plan to boost local air quality around Heathrow Airport has been produced, including plans to introduce an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) for airside vehicles by 2025.

Two of the three schemes shortlisted by the Davies Commission would see an expansion of Heathrow Airport

The ULEZ is one of a number of proposals outlined in Heathrow’s Air Quality Blueprint this week (April 27), and would affect all 8,500 airside vehicles operating at the airport.

Also planned is a £5 million investment to upgrade the airport’s electric charging infrastructure in short-stay car parking and airside, as well as a commitment to ensure Heathrow’s own fleet of airside cars and small vans are electric or plug-in hybrid by 2020.

And, working in partnership with Transport for London (TfL), the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Highways Agency, Heathrow intends to produce a new regional strategy for air quality, which will include new emission standards for buses and look to boost hybrid buses.

Incentive schemes for low or zero emission buses and a new ranking of airlines by noise and emission performance are also outlined in the plan, while Heathrow says it will upgrade Terminal 5’s boilers to ‘low-NOx alternatives’.

According to Heathrow, the blueprint has been produced in order for the airport to “play its part in meeting EU and UK government limits on local air quality and reduce ground-based emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 5% by 2020”.


The airport is in one of several areas of the UK which currently breaches EU legal objectives for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which makes up a major faction of NOx emissions.

As a result, Heathrow has recently come under increased scrutiny over its impact on air quality ahead of the Davies Commission’s final report on options to increase UK airport capacity this summer (see story), as building another runway could cause an rise in traffic around the airport.

Both Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport vying against each other for approval from policy makers to build another runway, and earlier this month Gatwick published a study criticising Heathrow’s air quality record (see story).

However, Heathrow says it has reduced annual NOx emissions by 16% (430 tonnes) between 2009 and 2013, which it claims is an amount equivalent to a single bus driving 588 million miles.

Commenting on the new 10-point plan, Heathrow Airport chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “We have a good track record in reducing emissions, now we will go even further and continue to work with partners to reduce emissions in the roads around Heathrow. We have ambitions to be one of the most responsible airports in the world, and the best neighbour we can be to our local communities.”

Furthermore, Heathrow said it is working with national rail services and Transport for London to improve rail connections to the airport, as well as operating ‘the world’s largest’ single site employee car share scheme and free public travel zone.

Heathrow Airport’s 10 point plan to manage and reduce emissions:

  1. Reduce emissions from aircraft at the gate
  2. Phase out the oldest and dirtiest aircraft
  3. Improve aircraft taxiing efficiency
  4. Provide more and better electric vehicle charging points
  5. Incentivise low-emission vehicles
  6. Work with partners to set up emissions zones and standards
  7. Reduce emissions from Heathrow’s own fleet
  8. Pool ground support vehicles to reduce numbers and emissions
  9. Lead the move to electric vehicles airside
  10. Modernise Heathrow’s heating supply