Gatwick air quality report turns up the heat on Heathrow

Gatwick Airport has published a new report that it claims shows 19 of 26 separate monitoring sites around Heathrow are up to 162% above legal NO2 limits. 

A Virgin Atlantic aircraft descends into Heathrow
A Virgin Atlantic aircraft descends into Heathrow

The data – collected over three months along key roads and residential areas – is more comprehensive than monitoring stations run by local authorities it claims, which provides only a ‘snapshot’ of air quality in the Heathrow area across a limited number of areas.

The top five worst performing sites (micrograms per cubic metre) averaged over a three months period according to the report were:


  • St Peter’s Way, Harmondsworth                    64.9                 162% over legal limits
  • Pinglestone Close, Harlington                         60.4                 151% over legal limits
  • Jolly Waggoners Roundabout, Cranford        53.7                 134% over legal limits
  • West Road, Osterley                                      50.5                 126% over legal limits
  • Hatch Lane, Harmondsworth                         48.8                 122% over legal limits


Gatwick says it has published the data to demonstrate how unlikely it is that Heathrow’s air quality will improve in time, and by enough, to accommodate the large amount of pollution that construction traffic will bring to the area from 2021 – the date construction is planned to start.

The impact of construction related traffic alone is likely to ensure that air quality around Heathrow is over legal limits – “making expansion there unlawful”, the airport operator claims.

Gatwick says it has never breached legal air quality limits and the airports location means it would comfortably remain within legal limits if it expanded.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said: “Air quality around Heathrow continues to soar way above legal limits today and it is inconceivable that it could improve fast enough to make expansion legal anytime soon.

“Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits.  We would have a new runway operational by 2025 without any of the environmental, construction and financial delays that Heathrow will inevitably face. It’s a no-brainer.”

A spokesperson for London Heathrow was unavailable for comment at the time of press.

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