Why You Should Oppose Heathrow Airport Expansion

The proponents of airport expansion at Heathrow believe that there is a need to grow its capacity by adding a runway and a terminal. But have they considered how this move will affect the environment and the local residents living near the airport?

The Airport Pledge lists down the arguments against expanding Heathrow Airport.

Higher CO2 and NO2 emissions

With the airport expansion, Britain will just contribute to the warmer climate caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. According to the Airport Commission, by 2040, aviation emission will be about 24% of all CO2 emissions in the UK. This can make Heathrow the largest source of CO2 in the country.

No need for an additional runway

The two existing runways at Heathrow, on their own, can accommodate so many weekly international flights, about close to a thousand.

Also, more sustainable alternatives can be explored. There are locations in the UK such as the Thames Estuary that can be constructed with an airport.

A lot of residents will be affected

There is already a high population of dwellers, with more than 700,000 residents under the flight path.

Traffic problems

Increasing airport capacity by constructing an additional runway will make the airport swarmed by more cabs, cars, and buses because of the influx of passengers. Obviously, that will mean more air and noise pollution in the area. Congestion on the airport roads to the terminal will also be an issue.

The Airport Pledge enjoins everyone to join the opposition against airport expansion in the UK. It is not the only option for the problems it is designed to solve. If your belief is aligned with ours, show your support by signing our Pledge. Please contact Scott Morton at for more details.

The Environmental Costs of Airport Expansion

A host of environmental issues has to be addressed first before an airport expansion takes place: worsening climate, more toxic air, and roaring engines, to name a few.

We are talking about sustainability—what kind of habitat will we be leaving the future generation? We owe it to them to keep the world a healthy place to live in.

Here are the environmental concerns that members and supporters of the Air Pledge has been raising through the years:

Making climate change worse

Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. Not only are airplanes heavy users of fuel, but the way that jet engines burn that fuel—producing nitrous oxides and high level clouds—triples its climate change impacts. Currently flying contributes 3.5% of global warming emissions world-wide. This could rise to 15% by 2050. If these expansion plans go ahead, aviation emissions will scupper the Government’s targets on climate change.

Increase in air pollution

Ancient woodlands, habitats, listed buildings across the country are all at risk. Air pollution around airports will continue to rise. New runways will also generate more car traffic and invariably will require new or wider roads.

Case in point: the Heathrow Airport in itself has gone over air pollution limits in the past 10 years. If a new runway is built, the problem will only be worse.

Increase in noise pollution

The noise experienced by people living around airports or under flight paths will grow. In the Heathrow Airport, for instance, more than 300,000 people will be exposed to noise.

There is no prospect of significantly quieter planes coming on-stream over the next 30 years. Already people under the flight paths to the busiest airports have to endure a plane every 90 seconds. They say it is like living under a sky of sound.

How Airport Expansion Can Affect the UK Economy

The Government’s Aviation White Paper outlines the biggest single programme of expansion the UK will have ever seen. In the White Paper, the Government said that it expects the number of passengers using UK airports to nearly treble by 2030.

To meet this demand the Government said that new runways would probably be required at Stansted, Heathrow or Gatwick, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and most likely Glasgow. Nearly all the country’s other airports would see significant expansion.

The Government made it clear that it would neither pay for nor build the runways. But the White Paper has provided a charter for the aviation industry and developers to proceed with airport expansion.

The consequences of this level of expansion to the economy will be immense:

Tax implications

The demand to fly is being artificially created by the tax concessions received by the aviation industry. It pays no VAT on tickets and no fuel tax on aviation fuel. Demand can be cut by imposing a fair rate of tax on aviation. It probably requires international agreement to tax fuel on international flights, but other measures could be taken to manage demand.

The UK economy loses around £9 billion a year in taxation because aviation fuel is tax-free, and all aviation transactions are VAT-free.


The deficit in aviation tourism amounts to £11 billion a year—that is the difference between what Britons flying abroad spent in other countries and what visitors to this country spend here.

In addition, the airport industry receives huge subsidies hidden in government funding for regional development and roads and airport infrastructure.

What the UK Government could do:

  • tax fuel on internal flights
  • increase the rate of Air Passenger Duty
  • work with other European countries to impose an Emissions Charge on all flights using European airports