A group conducting a report on climate change says that London Heathrow’s proposed third runway expansion will not the hinder the government’s carbon emissions targets, set below 2005 levels.

If it receives final approval and overcomes local protests the third runway at Heathrow will serve 24 to 70 million passengers by 2030.

As Copenhagen climate change talks took place, the UK Committee on Climate Change released its report saying that British airports will serve 138 million passengers by 2050 – a 60% increase – and that such a rise would not breach emissions targets.

Transport secretary Lord Adonis said the third runway, even when in full use, would only account for about 10% more UK flights than the country now has.

The report, however, has been dismissed by the UK Conservative Party, environmentalists and local activists such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, which are fighting against the expansion.