Heathrow Airport is developing a match-making app for trucking firms so they can share lorries to deliver cargo and curb pollution.
It has promised that no extra airport-related traffic – including lorries carrying freight – will be generated by a third runway.
This is despite forecasts that it will be able to carry twice as much cargo by 2025, when it hopes to open the new runway.
Heathrow’s plans to reduce their carbon footprint have been met with criticism so they are developing a new app for trucking firms so they can share lorries
The ambitious targets have been dismissed as impossible by environmental campaigners and MPs opposed to expansion.
They say the airport already breaches air quality limits.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said last month that Labour will oppose the third runway, predicting it will not meet the party’s environmental tests.
But, at the British Chambers of Commerce’s international trade summit in Birmingham, Heathrow’s chairman Lord Deighton will today lay out a ten-point plan to cut freight emissions and boost its cargo capacity.
He will say: ‘Through innovation, partnerships and our unwavering commitment to be a better neighbour, we are showing an expanded Heathrow is not a choice between the environment and the economy – we can deliver benefits for both.’
The most eye-catching measure is an app, called Heathrow CargoCloud, which it hopes will cut the number of half-empty lorries delivering cargo to the airport.
The idea is that hundreds of companies based near the site can buy and sell space in lorries.
Many receive freight from third party haulage companies. They then sort and prepare it before delivering it to the airport.
By downloading the app on a smartphone or tablet device they will be able to find out whether any other firms are taking a delivery from a lorry that has space in it and pay that haulage company to pick up their goods. The aim is to launch the tool this year.
Other proposals include building a huge ‘cargo village’ to allow more freight to be processed at the airport and reduce the need for it to be shuttled to warehouses in the surrounding area.
Giant warehouses will also be built away from the airport to sort cargo before delivery to Heathrow. Money will also be spent on adapting and widening roads too narrow for freight lorries. Heathrow said it will introduce an ultra-low emission zone, in addition to the one planned for the capital by London mayor Sadiq Khan.
It intends to try using electric or hybrid lorries to carry freight, with plans to install more electric-charging points.
The airport handles more than 30pc of the country’s exports to outside the EU, by value, and will outline its plans in a consultation to be published soon.
MPs still have to vote next year on a final national policy statement to give final approval to the runway proposal.
Last night one prominent environmental campaign group said the plan did not go far enough.
ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: ‘Air pollution around Heathrow is at illegal levels, so it’s right that effort is going into reducing freight emissions.
‘However, this should be happening regardless of expansion ambitions. In fact, unless they urgently get a grip on the air quality problem, expansion is a non-starter.’