Heathrow Review Demanded Due To Emissions Target Change

Councils say new 100% reduction pledge undermines third runway case

The group of councils which is opposing the expansion of Heathrow airport are calling for an urgent review of government policy saying new emissions pledges undermine the case for the third runway.

The UK has amended its commitment to reduce emissions from 80% to 100% by 2050 following the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) which said a change was needed based on ‘significant developments in climate change knowledge’.

However, the national policy statement (ANPS) on aviation which included support for expansion at the airport was published in June 2018 - at a time when the UK was still committed to the lower target.

Now campaigners say the same logic should be applied to the ANPS. They say that under planning legislation a national policy statement must be reviewed if there has been a ‘significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided.’

In September the CCC told the Government that the planning assumption for aviation should be to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It added that measures should be put in place that ‘limit growth in demand to at most 25 per cent above current levels by 2050.’

The CCC concluded that ‘current planned additional airport capacity in London, including the third runway at Heathrow, is likely to leave at most very limited room for growth at non-London airports.’

The councils which comprise of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond-upon-Thames, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor & Maidenhead have now formally written to the Secretary of State under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008 calling for the 2018 ANPS to be reviewed in the light of the significant changes since then. They say the ANPS should be reviewed to see whether expansion can be delivered consistently with new policy on climate change – and whether it can be delivered fairly across the UK.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said, “The key planning assumptions on which the Government based its support for Heathrow expansion in June 2018 are now outdated. Under planning legislation the Secretary of State now has a clear duty to review the ANPS. It has become abundantly clear that he should do this on climate change grounds alone.”

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: “The government has chosen to deliberately ignore the huge environmental damage Heathrow’s proposed third runway will cause. Meanwhile, its own figures demonstrate the UK will gain a negligible return on the £18billion cost of the scheme - most of which could end up being funded by the taxpayer. There’s plenty of greener, better initiatives that such huge sums could be spent on which would produce the kind of sustainable economic growth our country desperately needs.”

The councils claim that Heathrow expansion is never going to happen. They say the obstacles in its way including noise, air quality and now climate change, are insurmountable.

We requested a comment on this issue from Heathrow but did not receive a response.

November 6, 2019