Transport secretary Chris Grayling unveiled the policy today in Parliament, the first concrete outline of how government will proceed following its approval of the third runway in October.
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “The National Policy Statement admits that the construction and operation of a third runway at Heathrow could worsen air quality through increased emissions. The accompanying Sustainability Appraisal suggests that many of the worst impacts will be knock-on effects in central London.
“The statement does nothing to explain how, in an area which is currently blighted by illegal levels of air pollution, such a project can realistically meet compliance with legal air quality levels.
“The Government has simply kicked the can yet further down the road. It’s assuming the developer can come up with a scheme which miraculously fixes an air quality problem that has been ongoing for many years, both around Heathrow and in central London, while allowing for the airport to expand.”
ClientEarth will be responding to the consultation and expects the government to take concerns over air quality seriously.