Ministers need to replace ‘optimistic assumptions’ on the noise and environmental impacts of an expanded Heathrow with a credible policy framework, Labour has warned.
The comments come after the publication on Thursday of the draft Airports National Policy Statement, which sets out the Government’s criteria for giving final approval to a new Heathrow runway.
An artist's impression of Heathrow with a new runway
The document includes targets for Heathrow airport to get over 50% of passengers on public transport, but no enforcement mechanism, and says a national air quality plan that ministers are currently drawing up will allow an expanded airport to meet air pollution limits.
Labour’s shadow transport spokesman, Richard Burden MP, told Transport Network that ministers ‘do not have a blank cheque on local noise and environmental concerns’.
He said: ‘It is possible to square delivering additional capacity with minimising local noise and environmental impacts, but optimistic assumptions are no substitute for the credible policy framework needed to make this happen. For a scheme of this scale, it's vital the Government put that framework in place with the actions needed to back it up.
‘The onus is on Chris Grayling to produce a deliverable air quality plan for the area around Heathrow rather than the wish list he has presented so far.’
Mr Burden also stressed Labour’s view that ‘a third runway at Heathrow is only part of the answer to the challenges facing airport capacity in the UK’.
He told Transport Network: ‘Ministers should be doing far more to support connectivity into and out of our other international gateway airports beyond the South East and across the UK to unlock existing unused capacity, and develop the huge potential they have.’