Heathrow airport has asked for an independent assessor to monitor its environmental impact as it seeks a third runway.
Operating company BAA said in a statement released this morning it made the request because it wants to guarantee public confidence in noise levels and air quality limits.
The company faces mistrust after breaking its pledge not to ask for a third runway when it took over the management of Heathrow in 1999.
BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said a watchdog would provide an "uncompromising assurance" that government-set limits would be adhered to.
He said: "We have listened to the many arguments around expansion at Heathrow. Although the economic case remains compelling, we understand that we can only increase the number of flights if we can safeguard levels of noise and air quality."
A third runway would not see the number of flights from Heathrow increase by 50 per cent of current levels, it was announced today.
Instead BAA has said it will only increase the number of flights in and out of Heathrow at peak times and when punctuality has improved.
"The extra flexibility offered by mixed-mode and the third runway will enable Heathrow to match the reliability of its international competitors," Mr Matthews added.