Heathrow's environmental charm offensive: Airport plans to cut late-running departures to reduce noise for locals

 
Rebecca Smith
Heathrow is aiming to half the number of late-running departures to reduce noise for local communities
Heathrow is aiming to half the number of late-running departures to reduce noise for local communities (Source: Getty)

Heathrow has unveiled a new "sustainability strategy", setting out ambitious goals to reduce the airport's environmental impact including making growth from the third runway carbon neutral.

It also plans to halve the number of late-running departures to reduce noise for local communities in a voluntary Quiet Night Charter.

As part of this strategy, the airport has invested £500,000 in its first R&D incubator in an aim to minimise aviation's impacts, such as noise and carbon emissions.

Read more: Government to "water down" action on environmental hit of third runway

The strategy, dubbed Heathrow 2.0, has been drafted with input from environmental groups, academics and community leaders, as well as the airport's passengers. It includes the aim of using 100 per cent renewable electricity at the airport from 2017 in "a major step toward creating a zero-carbon airport".

It also proposes establishing an airside ultra-low emission zone by 2025 to improve quality of life through cleaner air and outlines initiatives to benefit local communities. That includes the voluntary Quiet Night Charter seeking to at least halve by 2022 the number of flights on non-disrupted days leaving late after 11.30pm, and a league table to publicly rank airlines on their noise and emissions.

“Heathrow 2.0 is a step-change for our business, and accelerates the shift in our industry towards a sustainable future for aviation," said chief executive John Holland-Kaye at the BCC's annual conference.

By focusing on the long-term, and through working together, we can deliver a world-leading economy - innovative, competitive, successful and sustainable. And we can create a future where our business, our people, our communities, our country and our world, can all thrive.

The environmental charm offensive comes after the Environmental Audit Committee said last week that UK government ministers weren't doing enough to prove that the airport's expansion won't breach air quality standards and carbon emissions.

Read more: Two arrested after blocking Heathrow tunnel as travellers warned of delays

The project's development has faced many opponents, including residents and local councils, who have said the government's "rushed and imbalanced" consultation doesn't provide them with information on the negative effects of Heathrow expansion, particularly as flight paths that will affect certain communities have yet to be agreed.

The Department for Transport has said the government has been "very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met".

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