31 May 2019 Heathrow Airport takes bold action to reduce airport-related vehicle emissions
Heathrow has announced it is getting ready to introduce new measures to protect local air quality, reduce congestion and tackle emissions, as the airport continues to use its scale to help solve environmental challenges
Heathrow announces tough new measures to protect local air quality and reduce congestion. Heathrow’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone proposes to target older, more polluting passenger cars and private hire vehicles by 2022, before a wider Vehicle Access Charge (VAC) is introduced for all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles entering the airport with the opening of the new runway.
Charges will help fund new measures to improve sustainable transport modes at the airport and public transport access proposed as part of Heathrow’s expansion plans. This provides further demonstration of the airport’s balanced approach to ensure the economic benefits of expansion will not come at an unacceptable environmental cost.
The UK’s biggest airport is putting plans in motion to introduce charges for passenger cars and all private hire vehicles. This includes the world’s first airport Ultra Low Emission Zone (the Heathrow ULEZ), set to be introduced in 2022. The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ for passenger cars and private hire vehicles entering car parks or drop-off areas at any of Heathrow’s terminals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Over time with the opening of the new runway from 2026 and improvements to public transport access to the airport, the Heathrow ULEZ will transition into a vehicle access charge (VAC) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas. The goal is to tackle the main source of local air pollution – road vehicles – and reduce congestion by encouraging more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport.
Initial proposals for the Heathrow ULEZ could set the charge figure between £10-15, in line with charges set by the Mayor in central London. Exact pricing for the Heathrow ULEZ will be confirmed when Heathrow submits it final DCO application for expansion after public consultation. The revenue generated from both schemes will help fund initiatives to improve sustainability at the airport and the measures proposed to improve public transport as part of the airport’s expansion plans.
Today’s announcement comes at a time when action is needed to protect local air quality by changing industry and public behaviour. Heathrow will now join London and Birmingham as the third UK zone to impose charges on the most polluting cars.
Furthermore, Heathrow is doing its bit to reduce vehicle use by leading industry change through a targeted Colleague Strategy which will be launched next week and will focus on significantly reducing the number of colleague car trips through a mixture of incentives, restraints on parking, and investment in new public transport links.
The airport has invested over £1billion in rail infrastructure and provides over £2.5million annually to encourage public transport use via the airport free travel zone, support for bus services and contributions to local sustainable transport schemes. Currently the best-connected airport in the UK, Heathrow is fully backing plans to treble rail capacity by 2040 through improved transport links which take into account the introduction of the Elizabeth Line, an upgraded Piccadilly Line, and proposed rail links from the West and South.
Earlier this month Heathrow also published its annual sustainability strategy report – Heathrow 2.0 – which sets out how the airport is addressing the impact of aircraft and other operations. Highlighted in the report are significant investments made to offset emissions and speed up electric flight, supporting the airport’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2020 and to operate zero carbon airport infrastructure by 2050. Initiatives include a project to restore UK peatlands to offset carbon emissions, more electric vehicles and charging points, investment in the development of sustainable fuels, a pledge to waive a year’s landing charges for the first electric aircraft put into regular service at Heathrow, along with research into future infrastructure to support electric aircraft and technologies.
Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow Expansion is not a choice between the economy and the environment – we must deliver for both.
Today’s announcement shows that we will take the tough decisions to ensure that the airport grows responsibly.