Any expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick airports would be illegal in terms of pollution and damaging to human health, the Green Party in Britain has said.

Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. Image by James Cridland / CC BY 2.0

Any major new runways would be “bad news for air quality and result in an unprecedented increase in noise levels” said Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East.

The party’s comments came as it responded to the consultation launched by the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission following its air quality assessment of the Heathrow and Gatwick expansion options.

The consultation period ends tomorrow and the commission is due to make a final recommendation to the Government in the next few weeks on which of the three short-listed schemes – two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick – should go ahead.

Gatwick Airport London

Gatwick Airport London Image by Lucy Fisher / CC BY 2.0

The Green Party, local councils around Heathrow and the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign are telling the commission it has underestimated the future environmental impacts of airport expansion.

But Heathrow Ltd, which put forward one of the two Heathrow schemes, said the commission’s assessment “confirmed an expanded Heathrow will go beyond meeting local air quality limits”.

Gatwick’s bosses, on the other hand, believe the West Sussex airport has the edge on Heathrow in terms of legal air quality limits.

(Press Association)