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Heathrow unveils carbon neutral growth plans for third runway era

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Heathrow Airport has outlined its plan to achieve carbon neutral growth once its third runway is built.

Measures unveiled by the airport are intended to reduce and offset carbon emissions from an expected increase in flights due to the addition of the third runway.

The House of Commons voted in favour of building the runway at the airport, by 415 votes to 119, in June.

In its plan, Heathrow has vowed to treat the environmental performance of aircraft as a key consideration of slot allocations for new flights. It will offer free landing fees for a year at the airport for its first commercially viable electric flights and will continue offering cheaper landing fees for cleaner and quieter aircraft and to offer cheaper lading fees for cleaner and quieter aircraft.

The airport also said it would review its infrastructure requirements for charging electric aircraft.

In addition, Heathrow outlined its intention to support the government’s plans to modernise airspace through, for example, potentially getting rid of routine stacking for aircraft coming to land.

The London hub also pledged to reduce emissions from aircraft on the ground through reduced taxi times, increased access to on-stand power sources and fewer engines used while moving around the airport.

To develop and promote new methods of carbon offsetting, Heathrow also pledged to continue investment in UK peatland restoration.

The airport also called on the UN body for international aviation, known as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to develop global goals for the uptake of sustainable alternative fuels.

Heathrow has urged the government to encourage the ICAO and its fellow member states to agree a 2059 goal for international aviation,

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Climate change is the biggest challenge facing our generation. But it is not aviation that’s the enemy – it is carbon.”

News of Heathrow’s new plan for carbon-neutral growth has come after it last year released its Heathrow 2.0 sustainability plan which also revealed the airport’s ideas to ensure that any new growth from expansion would be carbon neutral.

Plans to use carbon offsetting were also included in the Heathrow 2.0 strategy, as were pledges to use 100% renewable energy at the airport in 2017. An airside ultra-low emission zone by 2025 was also proposed.

The Heathrow 2.0 sustainability plan also set out a goal for half of the airport’s passengers to arrive by public transport by 2030.

Heathrow Airport plans for construction of the third runway to begin in 2021.

However, plans to build the third runway have been subject to legal challenges on environmental grounds from the likes of Friends of the Earth.

Other legal challengers of the government’s plans include the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, which are being backed by London mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace.

The High Court will rule on legal challenges against the government’s plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport simultaneously in March 2019.

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