Holidaymakers who drive to Heathrow could soon be hit with a congestion charge in a move branded ‘unfair’ by critics.

Airport bosses are considering the measure to try and persuade tourists to leave their cars at home and help meet strict emissions targets.

It has been reported that more than 80 miles of roads around the transport hub would be affected – but critics claim it would unfairly impact on passengers with no other way of reaching Heathrow.

According to reports, drivers could be hit with a £15 charge – but airport bosses say they “don’t recognise” this figure.

The move is currently considered a ‘last resort’, The Telegraph reports.

But the newspaper says Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is in favour of the low emissions zone, believing it is the only way to meet emissions targets.

Officials hope that improvements to rail links serving Heathrow, including a new Crossrail station which will link it with Berkshire and East London, will encourage more people to take the train instead of driving.

It comes amid concerns over pollution levels on the nearby M4, which is currently two thirds above the legal cap.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the association of UK airlines, have branded it another tax on passengers.

In a statement he said: “Airlines remain opposed to what in effect will be another tax on air travel at a time when the Government continues to penalise passengers through sky-high levels of Air Passenger Duty, and passenger charges at Heathrow remain the highest in the world.

“It is also not fair on passengers who have no other realistic way of travelling to the airport.

He continued: “Investment in surface access should be the priority – not pricing people off the roads – and the Government should now come forward and use its upcoming National Policy Statement to set out which road and rail schemes it intends to support including much needed clarity on the funding of these projects and an accompanying plan for delivery.”

A Heathrow spokesman said this morning: “We don’t recognise the 82 miles or the £15 quoted.

“We have an ambitious plan to treble our rail capacity by 2040 and enable 30 million more passengers to use public transport.

“If needed, we have various options to apply emissions based charging to vehicles travelling to and from the airport – for example, using drop off charges based on vehicle emissions as other UK airports do – which could be another way to reduce road journeys and support our sustainable transport plans.”



No 3rd Runway Coalition response:

Reacting to the news that Heathrow customers face a £15 car charge in order to tackle emissions targets, Robert Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:

“This latest additional Heathrow charge simply highlights a critical problem with expanding Heathrow: pollution targets would be so difficult to meet that the airport will have to whack travellers and families with a £15 charge for accessing the airport by car.

“Public transport use must be strongly encouraged at every opportunity, but if a hefty cost has to be imposed for driving to Heathrow, it just acts as evidence that expansion will mean an even pricier airport in reality”