Heathrow sets out fresh plans to tackle emissions as airport says road traffic won't rise despite expansion

Rebecca Smith
The airport has set out publicly the challenges of cargo emissions
The airport has set out publicly the challenges of cargo emissions (Source: Getty)

Heathrow's chairman has set out plans today for the airport to tackle freight emissions, marking the first time the airport has publicly addressed the environmental impacts of cargo.

The airport's non-executive chairman, Lord Deighton, said Heathrow was now looking to crack down on freight emissions. He outlined a 10 point plan, saying it will help ensure that as freight volumes grow with expansion, airport-related traffic on the road does not rise on today's total.

Read more: Heathrow unveils its latest rankings of the cleanest and dirtiest airlines

Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce international trade summit, Lord Deighton said:

Heathrow is dedicated to keeping the UK economy growing – but at the same time, we have pledged to be a sustainability leader and made promises to our local communities that we intend to keep.

The 10 steps we have outlined today allow us to keep building on our cargo strength and role as Heathrow’s biggest port by value, while restricting the emissions and local impacts of freight vehicles.

Among the measures the airport will take are investments in airfield charging points to install an ultra-low emission zone "for vehicles on-airport", and working with local authorities to address congestion points with a code of conduct for operators. Heathrow is also planning on trialling low emission freight vehicles and geo-fencing technology to reduce emissions on local roads.

The airport handles around 30 per cent of the UK's non-EU exports by trade, with its role as a trading hub set to grow when the third runway takes off. Cargo capacity will double when expansion is complete.

Heathrow has also pledged to increase public transport use to and from the airport too, while working on increasing uptake for car-sharing and taxi back-filling. It said the combination will mean there is no more airport-related traffic on the roads compared to today, when the airport has been expanded.

Transport for London has previously warned that predicted costs for improving road and rail links for Heathrow expansion could cost up to £20bn, which transport secretary Chris Grayling has called "ludicrous".

Heathrow's 10 steps to securing sustainable cargo growth
1. Upgraded cargo village to allow more direct trips to the airport
2. Increase airside transhipment facilities
3. Launch an online load consolidation tool this year
4. Consolidation facilities to reduce traffic on local roads
5. Local code of conduct for freight operators
6. Work with local highway authorities to develop a consistent enforcement approach
7. A strategic freight plan with local authorities to prioritise efficient cargo operations
8. Instituting a sustainable freight group with leading firms to share best practice
9. Trial of low emission vehicles and tech on local roads
10. Ultra-low emission zone for airside vehicles

Read more: Heathrow and Gatwick record new heights for passenger traffic in September

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