Heathrow to introduce ultra-low emission zone from 2022

Heathrow is proposing to implement an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to target older, more polluting passenger cars and private hire vehicles from 2022.

A wider access charge would be introduced for all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles entering the airport with the opening of the new runway.

Charges will help fund new measures to improve sustainable transport modes at the airport and public transport access proposed as part of Heathrow’s expansion plans, it said.

The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to the London’s ULEZ for passenger cars and private hire vehicles entering car parks or drop-off areas at any of Heathrow’s terminals, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Over time, with the opening of the new runway from 2026 and improvements to public transport access to the airport, the Heathrow ULEZ will transition into a vehicle access charge (VAC) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas.

The goal, it says, is to tackle the main source of local air pollution – road vehicles – and reduce congestion by encouraging more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport.

Initial proposals for the Heathrow ULEZ could set the charge figure between £10-15, in line with charges in central London. Exact details for the Heathrow ULEZ will be confirmed when Heathrow submits its final application for expansion after public consultation.

Revenue generated from both schemes will help fund initiatives to improve sustainable transport, contribute to community compensation and help keep airport charges affordable as the airport expands, it said.

The announcement comes at a time when action is needed to protect local air quality by changing industry and public behaviour.

Furthermore, a strategy will be launched next week that will focus on reducing the number of staff car trips through a mixture of incentives, restraints on parking, and investment in new public transport links.

Former London deputy mayor for transport and newly appointed chair of independent Heathrow Transport Area Forum, Val Shawcross, said: “This is a significant step change in Heathrow’s effort to clean up local ground level air pollution by shifting people into the cleanest modes of transport.

“I have never pulled my punches talking to the airport about local air quality and I look forward to continuing to hold Heathrow to account in my new independent role as chair of the Heathrow Area Transport Forum.”

Heathrow will be consulting on proposals for its surface access strategy, including Heathrow ULEZ and Heathrow VAC, in a statutory consultation on the preferred masterplan for expansion, which will be launched on June 18. The public will have the opportunity to provide feedback on our proposals as part of this consultation.

Plans to expand Heathrow include a commitment not to release any additional capacity at the airport if that would directly result in a breach of the UK’s legal air quality obligations.

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