MPs have accused ministers of planning to water down restrictions on emissions recommended by their own climate change advisors, in order to approve expansion of Heathrow Airport.
The Environmental Audit Committee said the Government is still not doing enough to demonstrate that it can mitigate the environmental impacts of the planned new runway.
Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said: ‘If the Government wants to get Heathrow expansion off the ground it needs to show that a third runway can be built and run without exceeding legal limits on air pollution or breaching our carbon budgets. We have seen little evidence of the “step change” in the Government’s approach we called for in our previous report.
The promise not to increase road traffic 'needs to be rigorously monitored'.
‘Worryingly, the Government looks set to water down the limits on aviation emissions recommended by its own climate change advisors. That would mean other sectors of the economy, like energy and industry, having to cut their carbon emissions even deeper and faster.’
She added: ‘Mitigating the air quality, carbon and noise impacts of a new runway cannot be an afterthought.’
The committee said a new air quality strategy is urgently required to ensure that airport expansion is not permitted at the expense of public health and expressed concern that the Government has given no guarantees that air quality targets will be maintained after Britain leaves the EU.
MPs added that the promise not to increase road traffic at Heathrow needs to be rigorously monitored, with clear accountability and consequences for failure.
The Department for Transport said it had has no plans to water down its ambitions on aviation emissions reduction and remains committed to meeting its emission reductions targets under the Climate Change Act.
A spokesman said: ‘We take our air quality commitments extremely seriously and have been very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met.’