Enlarge text

  • Print this page

The environment

Heathrow is similar in complexity to a small town, with over 70,000 airside employees and hundreds of different companies.

With such complexity comes a range of environmental impacts. In conjunction with all our business partners, we're committed to reducing the airport's environmental impacts as far as possible.

There are five key areas of focus at Heathrow:

These areas of focus are not only important to the local environment but also to the development of Heathrow. Every individual working at Heathrow can actively contribute to reducing our impact on the local environment by following operational guidelines at work and reporting any incident should they occur.

A suite of OSIs specifically written on the environment can be found on this website.


Via the use of Noise Action Plans we work to manage noise issues and effects arising from aircraft departing and arriving at the airport and all the ancillary services around these activities within the airport perimeter.

In our approach to noise management we supply FEGP on most stands and PCA in Terminal 5 and Pier 6 (Terminal 3); we also set out requirements within the Ground Noise OSI. Compliance with the OSI is monitored through random audits and surveys across the airfield.

There are also a number of restrictions around use of engine ground runs, GPUs and APUs at night which relate to legal planning conditions set on Terminal 4 and Terminal 5.

For more information on what we do about Noise http://www.heathrowairport.com/noise

Air quality

The activities that take place at Heathrow Airport are a source of air emissions locally. Therefore BAA, as the airport operator, has a significant role to play in addressing and reducing pollution levels in the local area.

We are committed to managing air quality emissions from Heathrow Airport and thereby contributing to improving air quality in the Heathrow area.

The key sources of air emissions at Heathrow are ground-level aircraft operations, vehicles travelling landside and airside, and stationary sources (such as boilers). We have an action plan focusing on reducing emissions from these sources.

For example, to tackle the largest source of emissions – aircraft operations – we will work with our industry partners and regulators to improve our understanding of the trade-offs between aircraft noise and air emissions. We have installed Pre Conditioned Air (PCA) in T5 and on Pier 6, and offer Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP) on most stands in order to reduce the need to run an aircraft's Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).

Other activities include:

  • APU restrictions
  • GPU restrictions
  • Elimination or reduction of high NOx aircraft
  • Elimination or reduction of high-emission airside vehicles
  • Emission reductions from other sources.

For more information on what we do about Air Quality refer to http://www.heathrowairwatch.org.uk

Water quality

The activities that take place at Heathrow Airport, combined with snow and rainfall contributions, generate water run-off to surface, foul and groundwater as well as impacting on water consumption and flood risk.

These activities are a result of Heathrow's operations and those of our tenants, customers, passengers and other third parties.

As the airport operator, in conjunction with our business partners we have an important role to play in managing these water issues in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Businesses and individuals operating at the airport are responsible for following Heathrow policies and procedures as laid down in various documents including OSIs.


There are two aquifers running beneath Heathrow that flow in the lower chalk aquifer from north-west to south-east and in the upper terraced gravels aquifer generally flows towards the nearest rivers.

There are two main water pollutants arising from the Heathrow site, glycol used for de/anti-icing activities and hydrocarbons from oil and fuel. Other pollutants such as heavy metals do occur but with lower frequency and in significantly smaller quantities.

The activities associated with the sources of pollution are carried out by Heathrow directly, and by our tenants, customers and other third parties. We must work together to reduce the risk of a pollution incident.

  • Activities that can lead to water pollution include:
  • De-icing activities of both aircraft and runways and taxiways
  • Aircraft fuel spills and other spills
  • Oils and chemical storage and use
  • Herbicide and pesticide storage and use
  • Fuel farm and fuel supply
  • Construction activities.

Foul water

Foul or trade effluent discharges arise as a result of work activities, this is discharged through a foul sewage system to Mogden sewage treatment works in south-west London, run by Thames Water.

A number of activities at Heathrow cannot be discharged to surface water and require a trade effluent discharge consent. Examples of these activities include:

  • Effluent from aircraft washing
  • Effluent from vehicle and ground equipment washing
  • Effluent from stand, apron and runway cleaning
  • Effluent from aircraft sanitation
  • Effluent from fire training activities
  • Effluent from cleaning and maintaining the boiler plant.


The use of energy by burning fossil fuels not only creates emissions, contributing to climate change, but is also becoming increasingly expensive for companies through market price, taxation and other corporate expenses.

By cutting down on the amount of energy we use, we can often find benefits in our working environment and efficiency – for example, switching the type of fluorescent tubes used and adding reflective baffles can not only save energy but improve the quality of light in a work area.


Our daily working lives generate a large amount of waste, which we tend not to notice as it is such a normal part of our lives. This can range from waste water in a sink to wooden pallets carrying goods.

For every waste stream there is a cost. By looking for ways to reduce waste we can save money and increase efficiency.

[Back to top]