Respond now to help stop Heathrow expansion

Published: Friday 22nd May 15

The latest air quality report published by the Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission underplays the true impacts of Heathrow expansion, Wandsworth Council and its 2M Group campaign partners are warning.

The highly technical new study, which is now the subject of an inadequately short three week public consultation, predicts the pollution impacts of two Heathrow expansion schemes and one for Gatwick.

The councils are calling on local people to respond to the consultation before it closes on May 29. You can respond by email to

The 2M group’s key concerns include:

  • Pollution estimates go up to 2030, around twenty years before the expanded airport would reach full capacity. 2M expect nitrogen dioxide levels to continue to rise until 2050 as Heathrow’s operation intensifies but these increases are not accounted for.
  • Pollution impacts are depressed by the inclusion of a series of controversial and untested mitigation measures, like a new congestion charging zone and a rerouting of the A4. These schemes have not been developed in detail and may not be possible.
  • The report makes optimistic projections about future car engine technologies reducing the levels of NO2 emissions from the road network. This is a gamble, not a serious projection.
  • The report suggests there will be no extra traffic on local roads traffic after Heathrow vastly increase flights, passenger numbers and its freight operation. This is not credible or realistic.
  • Even after the ultra low traffic levels and futuristic clean engines are factored in the report still projects an increase in pollution levels ​for ​around 47,000 homes, compromising the health of around 121,000 people and costing £10.8m through increased ​numbers of ​hospital appointments. This is far too high a price.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said:

“It’s vital local people examine these findings and share their concerns  with the commission. We simply don’t believe Heathrow can be expanded without increasing pollution levels which are already above legal limits. This report is misleading and tries to given the airport a way out and Davies cannot be allowed to get away with it.

“We have only been given three weeks to analyse and respond to this highly technical report. It’s a ridiculous timescale and there could well be more flaws we haven’t discovered yet. We will keep residents updated as we continue to examine the details.

“We are also going straight to ministers over this and asking them to consider what will happen if Heathrow expansion is approved and then inevitably these pollution levels fail to meet legal limits. The country could have to choose between restricting Heathrow’s operation or paying hundreds of millions in EU fines. This is clearly the wrong place to increase our aviation capacity.”

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Earlier this year a Supreme Court Judgement ordered ministers to produce a new action plan for bringing the UK’s pollution hotspots, like Heathrow, to within the legal limit "as soon as possible". The 2M councils say it will be impossible for the Government to sanction a major expansion of Heathrow without contravening this ruling.

The campaign group is currently preparing a technical response to the consultation which will be published in the coming days.

Wandsworth is a founding member of the 2M Group of councils – a cross-party alliance concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow operations on their communities.  

The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 5 million people and was successful in 2010 in overturning plans for a third Heathrow runway in the High Court.

2M members want to reduce night flights, preserve the noise relief provided by runway alternation and to strengthen noise and air quality controls in the areas around the airport. The group is not anti-Heathrow but works together to improve the environment and protect the quality of life for local people.

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Recent comments

I very strongly support airport expansion at BOTH Heathrow and Gatwick. These expansions will produce National economic benefits and convenience to the resisidents of Wandsworth.

29 May 2015

Corentin, maybe tens of thousands of residents don't like the noise but 100s of thousands aren't particularly bothered and are grateful for the economic benefits Heathrow brings. I wish Govindia & co would stop wasting my council tax on this negativity and promote/invest in better transport links to the airport.
Calvin Bird

26 May 2015

This is adressed to the previous comment by Simon. Dozens of thousands of residents are disturbed to say the least by planes on their way to Heathrow. We are lucky to live in a very green area of London but it is completely spoiled by the constant background noise. Also, only a tiny minority of Wandsworth residents work at Heathrow. And for business, well Gatwick is perfectly suitable. This is not about being a NIMBY but common sense. If Heathrow didn't exist, never ever you would see a new airport built there.

22 May 2015

this trial will potentially make aircraft noise over wandsworth much quieter...

22 May 2015

Have the council not understood that many of its residents either rely on heathrow for employment or need to fly out of their for business 2M appears a very obstructive group and I resent paying my council tax towards these costs. NIMBY at its worst

22 May 2015