Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) has denied it is planning to introduce a £15 congestion charge for motorists, despite claims it is the “only realistic way” to meet emissions targets for expansion.
HAL has hit back after The Telegraph reported that a £15 congestion charge is being considered for the 131km road network around the airport.
According to the paper, transport secretary Chris Grayling believes it is the “only realistic way” the airport will meet strict emissions targets. As a condition for expansion, HAL must show how it can deliver its proposed third runway within the UK’s legal air quality obligations.
Avoiding a decline in air quality will be crucial to Heathrow’s expansion bid, after deputy London mayor for transport Val Shawcross warned that problems proving compliance with air quality laws could stop Heathrow from securing planning permission for expansion.
A HAL spokesperson said: “We don’t recognise the 82 miles [131km] or the £15 quoted. We have an ambitious plan to treble our rail capacity by 2040 and enable 30M more passengers to use public transport.
“If needed, we have various options to apply emissions-based charging to vehicles travelling to and from the airport – for example, using drop off charges based on vehicle emissions as other UK airports do – which could be another way to reduce road journeys and support our sustainable transport plans.”
HAL says public transport will account for 50% of journeys to the airport by 2030, helping to cut emissions associated with expansion. It believes new Crossrail connections, increased capacity from a planned Piccadilly line extension and rail schemes such as Southern Rail Access will help achieve its target.
But Transport for London (TfL) says HAL cannot rely on extra capacity on the Tube network as the upgrades are not designed to accommodate extra airport traffic.
In February TfL told New Civil Engineer it could join a legal battle against expansion as it has not seen enough evidence on how that will be achieved.
MPs are set to vote on expansion in Parliament, this summer.