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Heathrow Sustainable Development (Air Quality)

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

I have today published the technical report of the Air Quality Technical Panels instituted after the 2003 Air Transport White Paper to review the basis upon which air quality assessments should be carried out for Heathrow Airport.

We continue to support further development at Heathrow, including the addition of a short, third runway in the 2015 to 2020 period, after a new runway at Stansted, but only if we can be confident that the conditions set out in the White Paper can be met. Publishing this report is a significant milestone in the programme of work to review the scope for meeting those conditions. I am grateful to the panel members who have devoted their energies over the past two years to a very full review of the issues and have produced a detailed and comprehensive report.

The report has been peer reviewed and I am happy to accept its recommendations. It is primarily concerned with methodology—how future assessments of air quality around Heathrow should be conducted. It does not attempt to prejudge the question whether development at Heathrow is more or less likely to be achievable within the critical air quality limits. But importantly it provides a sound scientific basis on which we can now proceed to carry out the remaining stages of the work to address that question in the coming months, building on the panels' recommendations.

Copies of the report are available in the House Library and full details will be available on the Department's website.