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Heathrow Airport has announced a series of measures to bolster its environmental credentials, as the owners of the UK’s busiest airport looks to fight back against critics of its planned expansion.
The airport’s “Heathrow 2.0″ sustainability plan, announced on Tuesday, includes an “aspiration” to make growth from its proposed new runway carbon-neutral.
The company also said it would aim to at least halve the number of flights departing after 11.30pm by 2022, and will establish an airside ultra-low emission zone by 2025.
It has also invested an initial £500,000 in a research and development “incubator” which will focus on finding new ways to minimise aviation’s impact on issues including noise and carbon emissions.
The commitments, which Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye described as “a step-change for our business”, come days after a critical report accused the government of being over-optimistic in its forecasts for the impact of a third runway.
The government gave its backing for a new runway at Heathrow last October, but the process, which has already been marred by more than a decade of delays and indecision, still faces opposition from many residents and politicians.
MPs on Westminster’s environmental audit committee said last week that the government had not proved a new runway could be built without breaching legal limits on air pollution.
Speaking after Heathrow reported stronger than expected annual results last Friday, however, Mr Holland-Kaye said he was “confident we can expand Heathrow and stay within the EU air quality limits”.