Page last updated at 06:28 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 07:28 UK

Third runway will 'damage health'

Lord Smith of Finsbury
Lord Smith said the government had lost track of environmental issues

A third runway at Heathrow Airport would be "very detrimental" to Londoners' health, according to the new head of the Environment Agency (EA).

Lord Smith of Finsbury said the government had lost track of the green issues and said a new runway would fail EU air pollution limits.

But ministers insisted that any Heathrow expansion would have to meet strict local environment conditions.

A government decision on a third runway is due by the end of the year.

Tory opposition

Environmentalists have always been strongly opposed to a third runway, and the Conservative leader David Cameron recently questioned the need for a new runway.

All the studies we've done in the Environment Agency of the likely impact of air quality on west London are very detrimental
Lord Smith, Environment Agency

However, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) claimed expansion was needed to help boost the UK economy.

But Lord Smith said the evidence was weighted against expansion.

"I hope very much that the government will not go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow," he said.

"All the studies we've done in the Environment Agency of the likely impact of air quality on west London are very detrimental.

"If the third runway goes ahead, if we get that extra both air and ground traffic that will arise out of that, then it is absolutely certain that nitrogen dioxide levels will go way beyond what they ought to be for the sake of human health."

A spokesman for the Department of Health (DfT) said: "The government has always been clear that expansion at Heathrow could not go ahead unless strict local environmental conditions could be met."




SEE ALSO
Tories would scrap Heathrow plan
29 Sep 08 |  UK Politics
Heathrow 'needs a third runway'
25 Jun 08 |  Business
At a glance: Heathrow expansion
22 Nov 07 |  UK Politics
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20 Dec 06 |  UK Politics

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