Heathrow expansion: The four biggest environmental challenges

Heathrow airport opened a consultation in June on its plans to construct a controversial third runway. Over hundreds of pages of its updated scheme development report, it set how just what a gargantuan effort the project will require, with plans to divert rivers, bury part of the M25 motorway and demolish and expand rebuild existing terminals. ENDS takes a look at the environmental barriers the plan faces – and how Heathrow intends to tackle them.

Climate change

Perhaps the most contentious aspect of Heathrow’s plans relate to its impact on the global climate. The consultation itself does not consider its impact on the UK’s new target to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, on the basis that it had not become law by the time the consultation had opened. 

It says increasing emissions from its ground operations by around half would not “materially affect” the government’s previous 80% reduction target, adding that international aviation emissions – which form the vast majority of total emissions – would be covered by the CORSIA offsetting scheme set up by the International Civil Aviation Organization. 

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