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Airports Commission Report: Carbon emissions, air quality and noise inquiry launched

23 July 2015

The Environmental Audit Committee is holding an inquiry into the implications for Government commitments on carbon emissions, air quality and noise should the Airport Commission's recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow Airport be adopted.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Huw Irranca-Davies, said:

"Environmental concerns are a key part of the debate on airport expansion. Critics of airport expansion have raised concerns about whether it is possible to expand airport capacity in the South East while meeting the UK's binding commitments on air pollution and climate change. We will be examining the Airports Commission's assessment of these issues in order to inform the debate about the future of aviation in the South East."

Airports Commission report findings

The Airport Commission published its final report on airport capacity in London on 1 July 2015. The Commission unanimously recommended the building of a third runway to the northwest of Heathrow Airport, subject to a package of measures to mitigate the environmental and community impacts.

On carbon emissions, the Commission assessed the options alongside the Committee on Climate Change's (CCC) planning assumption that aviation should not exceed 2005 levels of Carbon Dioxide by 2050. The Commission drew up an indicative set of policies that would allow the CCC's assumption to be met, including a carbon price of £330 per tonne by 2050 (assuming no international system for internationally trading emissions).

On air quality, the Commission recommended that new capacity at Heathrow should not be released unless doing so would not delay compliance with European law on air quality and found that this would require a package of mitigation measures.

On noise, the Commission proposed an aviation noise levy to fund mitigation measures, the creation of an independent aviation noise authority and a legally binding "noise envelope" at Heathrow.

Terms of reference

The Committee invites written submissions by 5pm on Thursday 3 September 2015 on the following: 

  • Whether the indicative policies and proposed mitigations set out in the Airports Commission's recommended option are realistic and achievable.
  • What the implications of adopting or not adopting those policies and mitigations are for wider Government policy.
  • Whether realistic and achievable alternatives to those policies and mitigations exist, should the Government adopt the recommended option.
  • What steps the Government should take in these areas to reach its decision in a way that is consistent with its commitments on sustainable development.

Send a written submission for this inquiry 

Further information

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