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Low emissions vehicles

Heathrow airfield at night

Sustainability case study

Close to 200,000 passengers pass through Heathrow every day, making it one of the world’s busiest international airports.  This means we have a lot of vehicles, around 7,500 airside alone, to transport people, baggage, equipment and service aircraft.

Managing our impacts on local air quality is a priority for Heathrow to ensure we meet EU and Government limits around the airport and  meet our commitment to being a good neighbour.   Reducing emissions from vehicles operating in and around Heathrow is helping us achieve this.

We know that it’s unlikely that just one technological solution will reduce emissions from fleet so our Air Quality Strategy focuses on trialling and adopting various new, cleaner technologies.

750 vehicles, that’s 10% of the entire airside fleet at Heathrow, are electric, making it one of the largest fleets of electric airside vehicles in Europe.  As well as electric tugs that move baggage around the airfield, we use electric cars and vans to transport staff, and trials have started on electric specialist ground support vehicles such as  belt loaders, cargo loaders and push back tractors.

We’re also trialling  hydrogen technology, and worked  with the GLA in 2012  to support  the UK’s first publically accessible hydrogen fuelling station. The station is part of the HyTEC project ; introducing zero emissions hydrogen fuel cell taxis into London that can now be fuelled at Heathrow. In 2013 we will deploy the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle used by airport companies, as well as assessing hybrids to test their effectiveness and suitability.
Although the initial cost of these vehicles is currently higher than their diesel counterparts, the significant saving in whole life costs makes them a viable solution for the future, whilst  EU and UK Government funding is available reduce capital costs.

Encouraging low emissions vehicles at Heathrow can also help our operators to reduce fuel and maintenance costs .  Our Clean Vehicles and Heathrow Sustainability Partnerships, with operators at the airport, will continue to help us share ideas, overcome barriers, develop joint solutions and, above all have the maximum impact on reducing emissions.

Sustainability awards

Sustainability BITC pink planters