Heathrow third runway 'would triple pollution deaths'

 

A third runway at Heathrow would triple the number of early deaths from pollution linked to the airport, a new study claims.

In contrast, moving London's main airport to the Thames Estuary - a plan championed by London mayor Boris Johnson - would cut the number of deaths, the report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Cambridge University says.

They say a third runway at Heathrow would increase deaths from air pollution linked to the airport from the current 50 a year to 150 by 2030, with deaths more than doubling to 110 a year even if the extra runway is not built.

Nationwide, the number of deaths linked to aviation pollution at current capacity will rise from 110 annually today to 250 in 2030, the report says.

A third runway at Heathrow would add a further 10 deaths a year because of an expected reduction in pollution at other airports, which will lose flights to the new, expanded hub.

The scientists say that moving the UK's main airport to the Thames Estuary, the plan championed by the London mayor, could cut deaths by up to 70%.

"On a nationwide basis, early deaths due to UK airport emissions decrease by a quarter relative to an unexpanded Heathrow," they wrote in the report by MIT's Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, which looked at pollution emissions at the top 20 UK airports.

"In other words, airport capacity would be expanded and health impacts reduced under the Thames Hub scenario."

The difference is explained by the south-westerly prevailing wind, which currently blows pollution north east from Heathrow into London, according to the report.

Pollution from a Thames Estuary airport would be carried out to sea.

MIT said a full academic paper on the subject had been accepted for publication in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Expanding Heathrow during the current parliament was ruled out in the coalition agreement in 2010.

The Government has appointed former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies to lead an independent commission into airport capacity needs.

But his final report is not due until summer 2015 - after the next general election.

Mr Johnson repeated his call for a new "Boris Island" airport to the south-east of the city at the Conservative Party Conference last week, adding: "We are not taking the decisive action that we need to make ourselves competitive with other European countries, with Dubai, with all these competitors of ours that are putting on new runways."

A mayoral spokeswoman said today: "The Mayor's team are keen to examine this latest research, which potentially adds further weight to why the Government should rule out now the possibility of expansion at Heathrow.

"There are clear environmental benefits from meeting the increasing demand for aviation at a hub airport located to the east of London, rather than the madness of expanding an airport that is already constrained by location, straining at the seams and in the heart of the western suburbs of London.

"The right thing for the Government to do is to return to the pledges it was elected on and rule out Heathrow expansion before the Davies Commission starts its work."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Maintaining the UK's status as a leading aviation hub is vital to our economy. This is why we have set up an independent commission to look at all the options, which will naturally include an assessment of the environmental and social impacts of any proposal."

A Heathrow spokesman said: "The issue of air pollution is one faced by all major cities across the world. Aviation is a far smaller contributor to air pollution than road traffic, however we are already taking significant steps to tackle the problem. For example, we subsidise local public transport so people can travel for free without the need for a car.

"We also charge airlines based on how green they are - so the cleanest aircraft are charged less to land at Heathrow."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Getty
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Manager - Business Support Transformation, 1 year contract

£550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Walthamstow...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Demandware Developer

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client is...

Sap Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor