Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon has promised to tackle the problems of “serious congestion and very poor air quality” caused by Heathrow by establishing a new congestion charge zone around the airport.
According to official City Hall research, nearly 9,500 Londoners die early each year due to the long-term effects of exposure to air pollution. Flights into and out of Heathrow, and surface transport used to access the airport, are key contributors to the pollution suffered by local residents.
Ms Pidgeon, who currently leads the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly, says her proposed new congestion charge zone would help cut traffic congestion and improve air quality.
In 2014 the airport’s owners suggested a similar scheme which they said could help raise money to pay for major improvements to public transport and air quality.
Announcing her proposal, Pidgeon said: ”The Congestion Charge has played an important role in the increase in the use, capacity and reliability of public transport in London, as well as an increase in cycling, all of which means a reduction in congestion.
“But today the Congestion Charge only covers a small very busy area of the city.
“At Heathrow airport there is serious congestion and very poor air quality. So today I am launching a plan to introduce a new congestion charge zone at Heathrow.”
The mayoral hopeful claimed the cost of establishing a localised scheme “would quickly be paid for by the revenue raised”.
Commenting after Ms Pidgeon’s announcement, a spokesperson for Heathrow said: “Heathrow has a strong record in reducing airport-related road traffic, and encouraging public transport use.
“Since 1991, despite almost doubling passenger numbers at the airport, airport-related road traffic has remained largely static and the number of airport passengers who use public transport has grown to around 41%.
“We have called for partners like the Mayor’s office to work with us on a strategy to reduce non-airport road traffic emissions which are the major cause of local pollution – for example by extending London’s low emission zone to the airport area.”