Speculation about a congestion charge around Heathrow, to cut air pollution and deter traffic

The Airports Commission recommended measures such as a congestion charge on roads around Heathrow, in order to keep levels of air pollution at legal levels, and prevent traffic congestion gridlock with a 3rd runway.  The Times reports that the congestion charge may be imposed, with the effect of forcing people to use public transport instead of cars.  The central London congestion charge is £11.50 per day. What the money would be spent on is not known. The charge might be levied on some 80 miles of road, to keep NO2 and particulates down.  The impact on road users who are not related to Heathrow is not known, or the costs to the local economy of this burden. The charge may have to be agreed through the development consent order process.  Chris Grayling said, on 25th October, that the runway could be delivered “within air quality limits.” But little in the DfT’s documents gives any firm reassurances that measures will be put in place that could actually keep the levels of NO2 low enough.  Further questions emerged last week when the High Court ruled that the government was failing to tackle air pollution quickly enough, and its air quality plan was based on over-optimistic forecasts. Heathrow insists that the number of public transport routes (which is is not prepared to pay towards) will increase, with new direct rail links helping Heathrow out. The worst air pollution in the area is near junctions 3 and 4 of the M4, where up to 16% of the traffic is related to Heathrow. 



Heathrow congestion charge to cut car pollution

By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (The Times)
November 12 2016,

A congestion charge could be imposed around Heathrow under plans to make millions of passengers leave their cars at home when the airport’s third runway is built.

Motorists face being “fined” for driving on 81 miles of roads surrounding the airport as part of proposals to combat gridlock on roads and promote greener public transport. The charge will be implemented within a decade if levels of deadly nitrogen dioxide from car exhausts fail to drop within legal limits just north of the airport.


Full Times article here



Airports Commission Final Report

Below are the mentions in the Airports Commission’s Final report at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/440316/airports-commission-final-report.pdf  that mention their recommendation of a local congestion charge around Heathrow:


The motorway links serving Heathrow are amongst the most congested in the country, meaning that significant additional investment in widening, or effective policy measures such as a congestion charge, may be needed to accommodate growth in traffic resulting from the airport’s expansion.

Firm action will therefore be needed on the part of the airport operator to ensure
that emissions related to the airport are minimised, together with an effective
national strategy to address broader background air quality issues, as recently
stipulated by the Supreme Court. Any new capacity should only be released when
it is clear that air quality at sites around the airport will not delay compliance with
EU limits. That will require both the implementation of a range of on-site measures,
for example reduced engine usage during taxiing, and potentially wider steps such
as the implementation of a congestion charge to prevent traffic levels rising as a
result of expansion.

…. potentially including the introductionof an access charge for those travelling to the airport by road or a broader congestion charge.


The introduction of a congestion or access charge scheme should be considered to help ensure that road traffic to and from the airport does not cause unacceptable impacts on local air quality or road congestion.

The percentage of people accessing the airport via public transport would increase from 41% to 53%. This could rise further if a congestion or access charge for motor vehicles was introduced as discussed below

On the strategic road network, a number of links near to the airport, particularly
those sections of the M4 in the closest proximity, are expected to require widening
to cope with increased demand resulting from expansion, although demand
management measures, such as congestion charging, could be used as an
alternative to this