HEATHROW airport’s expansion should be supported on the condition that it reduces carbon emissions, according to council officers. 

Jenny Graham, transport policy team leader, and Gabrielle Mancini, economic development officer, said West Berkshire Council should support the airport expanding. 

However, this support should be on the condition that the airport reduces its carbon emissions, they said. This is despite the fact that increasing air travel will directly increase carbon emissions.

Campaigners said the new runway would lead to 700 extra flights a day.

A round trip from Heathrow to New York JFK emits 671 kg; only slightly less than the average person in West Berkshire’s monthly carbon footprint of 683 kg, according to data from the government and the UN. 

Ms Graham and Ms Mancini recommended conditional support in a recent report to the full council, which will meet on September 12. Councillors will then vote on how to respond to the consultation. 

The officers said the expansion will bring economic benefits to West Berkshire, and will not have a direct impact on the district’s ability to meet its carbon neutral targets. 

They mentioned specific industries in West Berkshire that would benefit: logistics and freight, motor racing, and transporting racehorses. 

They also said: “Opposing expansion at Heathrow would have potential reputational impacts.” 

Heathrow is legally required to consult with the public about its plans to build a third runway. The consultation started on June 18 and ends on September 13. 

Some councillors oppose the expansion. On July 2, Councillor David Marsh (Green, Wash Common) introduced a motion opposing the expansion, saying it was incompatible with tackling the climate emergency and the UK becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

But Ms Graham and Ms Mancini claimed that the extra CO2 emissions from the additional flights will be ‘largely offset’ through the new carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (Corsia), set up by the United Nations.

Offsetting emissions does not remove them from the atmosphere, but instead means paying poorer countries to emit less, according to many experts.

A joint statement from WWF, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace described offsetting as an ‘easy way out for governments, businesses and individuals to continue polluting without making changes to the way they do business or their behaviour’.

A petition signed by 792 people was handed to West Berkshire Council’s executive on September 5, asking the council to oppose the expansion.