Environment experts and local campaigners have backed plans to reduce pollution around Heathrow but called for them to be implemented more quickly.
On Thursday the London Assembly’s Environment Committee heard from campaigners and representatives of airport operator BAA as part of its regular look at noise and air pollution around the airport.
BAA told Assembly Members that it plans to improve air quality by encouraging the use of cleaner aircraft, reducing taxiing times and cutting emissions from airport-based vehicles.
Independent air quality consultant Professor Duncan Laxen said: “The issue is not a disagreement with the overall approach which BAA has adopted, but it would be a requirement to ensure that what is done is being done thoroughly and being done fast enough.”
John Stewart, Chair of campaigning group HACAN, agreed that the airport operator had the right objectives but said the speed was much slower than he would like to see.
Murad Qureshi, Chair of the Environment Committee, said: “Pollution is a major problem in the capital and Heathrow has a role to play in helping clean up London’s air, particularly for people living around the airport.
“We are pleased BAA is taking the issue seriously, and welcome some of the plans we heard today, but echo concerns about the speed of progress. Action must be taken as quickly as possible to reduce the damaging effects of pollution on Londoners’ health.
”Aircraft noise is another major concern for Londoners. BAA is encouraging airlines to use more modern aeroplanes into Heathrow, which are quieter than the older models. However, changes to flight paths and operational methods could mean that more people than ever are being affected by aircraft noise, the scale and impact of which is very difficult to evaluate.”