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Vehicle emissions: Stricter air quality standards for Heathrow's buses

Heathrow airfield at night

Responsible Heathrow case study

We contract bus companies to transfer passengers and staff at Heathrow. Buses run between terminals, from long-stay car parks to the airport, and from aircraft to terminals.

It's all an essential part of running the airport, but emissions from bus exhaust - including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) - can affect local air quality and contribute to climate change.

To reduce this impact, we have set stricter standards to make Heathrow's buses cleaner. All buses at Heathrow must now comply with the latest EU vehicle engine standard, introduced in September 2009 and known as Euro 5. It requires vehicles to emit at least 50% less NOx compared with the next best standard. Our contracts with bus companies also require them to commit to further emissions reductions over time.

At the same time, we have begun a programme to make bus travel around Heathrow more efficient. By switching to fewer bus companies we are cutting the number of vehicles at the airport by nearly two-thirds, from 230 to just 84 by 2011, while maintaining the same level of service.

Together, our stringent new requirements and more efficient airport transport will reduce emissions of NOx by over 50% by 2011, with benefits for local air quality.

Sustainability awards

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