Heathrow unveils online platform to tackle freight fleet emissions

Heathrow's pledge to become the most sustainable airport hub in the world has been bolstered by a new emissions reduction blueprint that puts an emphasis on tackling freight emissions through an online data portal.

Heathrow Airport yesterday (16 March) announced plans to create a web portal which sees subscribed members exchange information about spare vehicle capacity in order to decrease the amount of freight vehicles travelling around the airport.

Heathrow’s head of cargo Nick Platts said: “Operating a cleaner, leaner and more efficient freight operation is an essential part of delivering on our ambition to be the best airport in Europe for cargo gateway in the world. This WebPortal can deliver for all. Our cargo partners can reduce their costs, our local communities will experience less congestion and improved air quality, and Heathrow will build on its strength as an airport of choice for cargo.”

The Airport – which handles over 1.5m tonnes of cargo each year – will use the portal in an attempt to reduce the amount of cargo planes and trucks operating around the airport. Currently the fleet accounts for servicing, deliveries and cargo operations. Operators can use the portal to negotiate a price for the use of cargo space on viable vehicles.

Along with the portal – the UK’s first geographically specified system of its kind – Heathrow will introduce an off-airport distribution centre, increased road monitoring and tighter licensing regulations as part of plans to future-proof its freight fleet. The airport is also looking into low-emission vehicles for the future and has already experimented zero-emission, driverless pods for transport.

Blueprint for success

Emissions from the airport have been reduced by 16% over the past five years as efforts formed for the Responsible Heathrow 2020 initiative begin to pay dividends. The Airport has also launched its Blueprint for Emissions Reduction to compliment the original sustainability targets.

Besides working to reduce freight emissions, the blueprint covers a new £16.2m investment into gate equipment to stop unnecessary over-use of aircraft engines, as well as implementing ‘eco-driving’ training for airside drivers to reduce emissions.

Heathrow’s investment into mitigating technology comes just one week after research from the Independent Transport Commission (ITC) found that any extra emissions as a result of the controversial third runway would be subsided through new green technology.

Not content with just lowering transport emissions – which was recently supported by a new £2m electric vehicle charging pledge – Heathrow is also aiming to reduce emissions and energy consumptions within its restaurants and outlets.

Last week, it became the first UK airport to propose a series of environmental targets, including energy reduction, recycling and a ‘mystery shopper’ programme, for restaurants and outlets in the airport. Heathrow has been shortlisted for edie’s Environment and Energy Awards, alongside the likes of Aldi and Northern Rail in the onsite solutions category. The winners of those Awards will be announced on 16 May.

Matt Mace

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