Campaigners say move means Boris Johnson has early chance to block expansion
Campaigners against the expansion of Heathrow have been given permission to challenge a ruling against their challenge to plans for a third runway. They are saying that the move might provide new Prime Minister Boris Johnson with an early chance to block the controversial plans for the airport.
A group including councils, local residents, environmental charities and the Mayor of London brought separate judicial reviews of the Government's decision to proceed with the plans. These were dismissed in the High Court by two judges in May.
The original case was brought against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on the basis that the National Policy Statement (NPS) on the project failed to deal adequately with issues such as pollution, climate change, noise and congestion.
The five councils involved in the action were Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor and Maidenhead.
Lawyers for the Government had successfully argued that the case was ‘premature and unarguable’ as the planning process will allow for representations on these matters to be made later on.
Permission was granted by Lord Justice Lindblom for a four-day hearing on the earlier ruling at the Court of Appeal in London beginning on 21 October.
Lord Justice Lindblom stated, "The importance of the issues raised in these and related proceedings is obvious."
Reacting to the decision, Paul Beckford, Policy Director of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said, “We welcome the Court of Appeal’s recognition of the seriousness that the Heathrow expansion proposal brings. Our fight will continue to end the plans that would blight our environment and fall flat in the face of our climate emergency. We expect to win.”
Commenting ahead of the likely new prime minister taking office, Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said, “Boris Johnson knows that Heathrow expansion cannot meet environmental targets, including on noise and air pollution. Mr Johnson has indicated he will be following the legal and planning processes very carefully, then at the appropriate time the project can be cancelled. We don’t expect any gimmicks but remain confident that Mr Johnson will stop this disastrous project, albeit at the correct time in the process. The decision by the Court of Appeal today may make that time a little sooner than previously thought.”
The judgment can be found here.
A Heathrow spokesperson said, “It is disappointing that despite the recent, High Court judgement, taxpayer’s money continues to be spent on fighting this. A vast majority of MPs, unions and business support Heathrow expansion as it will provide an economic boost up and down the country, with strict and legally binding environmental targets attached. We remain focussed on delivering this major piece of privately funded infrastructure that the UK so desperately needs to remain competitive on a global stage.”
Heathrow are currently consulting on its detailed proposals for a third runway. Once finalised they will go to a public inquiry in 2020 and, in the absence of any delays, the new runway would open in 2025 or 2026.
If Heathrow finally gets the all-clear, it aims to open the new runway in 2025/26.
July 23, 2019