Heathrow announces measures to reduce airport-related vehicle emissions

Heathrow Airport has proposed the implementation of an ‘Ultra-Low Emission Zone’ (ULEZ) by 2022, aimed at reducing congestion and protecting local air quality.

The plan will target older and more polluting passenger cars and private hire vehicles, by introducing charges identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ for vehicles entering car parks or drop-off areas at any of Heathrow’s terminals.

“Heathrow Expansion is not a choice between the economy and the environment – we must deliver for both. Today’s announcement shows that we will take the tough decisions to ensure that the airport grows responsibly,” said Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye.

After the opening of the planned new runway in 2026, the airport plans to transition the ULEZ into a wider vehicle access charge (VAC) for all passenger and private hire vehicles entering the airport. The hope is that public transport access to the airport will have improved by the time this is introduced.

The charges from both schemes will help fund methods to improve sustainable transport around the airport, as well as compensating the local community and keeping airport charges affordable with expansion.

Exact details for the Heathrow ULEZ and associated charges are yet to be released, but are set to be in line with the figures set by the London Mayor in his ULEZ, which would make the charge between £10-15.

“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,” said Former London Deputy Mayor for Transport and newly appointed Chair of independent Heathrow Transport Area Forum, Val Shawcross.

“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.” 

The proposed measures will make Heathrow the third zone in the UK to impose charges on the most polluting cars, after London and Birmingham.

The news comes after Heathrow published its annual sustainability strategy report, highlighting such initiatives as a project to restore UK peatlands to offset carbon emissions and a pledge to waive a year’s landing charges for the first electric or hybrid aircraft put into regular service at Heathrow.