September 25, 2008

Airport Expansion Hits Pollution Claim

By Shiel, Vicki

The government has failed to take on board expert recommendations in its research on the impact of Heathrow Airport's expansion, a key adviser has warned. Government air quality expert group chairman Mike Pilling argued that the extent of modelling work to assess future concentrations of nitrogen dioxide around Heathrow has not been as thorough as was recommended.

Pilling, who is professor of physical chemistry at the University of Leeds and helped the DfT devise ways of measuring future pollution around the airport, warned that more analysis is needed before a decision can be made. "Calculations that could have been done have not been and I hope that this will be resolved," he said.

It is not the first time that the government's handling of the proposal has been criticised. Earlier in the year, a group of MPs called for a public inquiry into the public consultation on the expansion (Planning, 11 April, p6).

Pilling's comments came as it emerged that transport secretary Ruth Kelly's decision on Heathrow expansion is likely to take longer than expected. In a statement to parliament this week, Kelly said officials are still analysing the 70,000 responses to the public consultation.

She added that more work is being done to deliver an equalities impact assessment on how different groups would be affected by the plans. But she insisted that a decision will be announced before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, communities secretary Hazel Blears was expected to call in for inquiry Stansted Airport's application for a second runway.

Heathrow Airport: consultation responses under review

Copyright Haymarket Business Publications Ltd. Jul 11, 2008

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