But there is one environmental constraint which will apply very quickly, which is mandatory under EU law, and which cannot be circumvented. That is the EU targets on nitrogen oxide which come into force in 2010, just over a year away. Nox limits are already being breached in London now, and frankly it is ridiculous to pretend, as the government seems to, that increasing by 50% the number of flight movements at Heathrow from 480,000 a year to 720,000 – equivalent to bolting on to Heathrow another airport the size of Gatwick – will not push nox and noise levels sky-high above what is lawfully permitted.He adds:
I contacted Stavros Dimas, the EU commissioner for the environment, to ask him to investigate. He wrote back to me last July saying: "Technical reports underpinning the Heathrow expansion suggest that nitrogen-limit values near Heathrow will be significantly exceeded in 2010, the year in which those limit values become mandatory, and that this will be the case even after 2015."It now becomes clear that Meacher was the recipient of the letter cited in this Guardian story in August.