Gatwick sees emissions fall

Gatwick airport says the air quality around it improved again last year despite a leap in the number of aircraft movements.

The amount of Nitrogen Dioxide in the local area at its 'worst case' measure was 27 micrograms per cubic metre (mcm) in 2014, well below the European legal limit of 40 mcm. The worst-case measurement compared with 28mcm in 2013 and 33mcm in 2012. Air quality measurements are taken by the local council independent of the airport.

The fall in emissions comes despite a jump in aircraft movements, from 250,520 in 2013 to almost 260,000 last year. Gatwick said the falls in the worst-case readings "reflect the significant changes in the aircraft fleet and operational practices at Gatwick and a fall in road traffic", with the benefits from more fuel-efficient aircraft being apparent.

Gatwick argues that expanding Heathrow would be unlawful because of breaches in air quality standards at the main rival hub. The Sussex airport vowed to maintain its record of not breaching air quality limits if it was granted permission to build a second runway.