CO2 ruling may halt new airport runways
Court judgment which criticised the government’s decision to build a third runway
a string of other airports hope to use the ruling to launch fresh challenges against
plans for mass growth in flights and passenger numbers.
legally binding targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when they approved
the expansion of Heathrow.
owner of Heathrow, colluded with the government to build the case for passenger
said: "This ruling has profound consequences for airport expansion, not just at
Heathrow but across the country. The law is there to protect people from overpowerful
and vested interests and Friday’s ruling was a victory for the people."
white paper. A coalition of local councils, residents and green groups argued
that it failed to take into account statutory limits on CO2 emissions that were
introduced in 2008.
and should be reviewed. The judge said: "Common sense demanded that a policy established
in 2003, before important developments in climate change policy, should be subject
to review in light of these developments."
the verdict could still have repercussions across the country.
numbers rise from 24m to 68m by 2030. Carol Barbone, the director of Stop Stansted
Expansion, said: "Without the security blanket of government policy to rely on,
BAA knows its chances of securing a favourable result from a public inquiry are
airport, outlined in the 2003 aviation white paper, are now dead in the water.
Proposals to increase the number of passengers at Bristol international airport
from 6.2m to 10m by 2020, currently being considered by the local council, could
now be challenged. Carnwath’s ruling could also scupper the introduction of more
flights at Manchester airport, Southend airport in Essex and Biggin Hill in Kent.
mayor, for a four-runway island airport in the Thames estuary are now highly unlikely
to proceed. However, Manchester city council has already approved plans for its
airport to expand to handle up to 50m passengers a year by 2030.
said: "The expansion plans are based on outdated thinking. This ruling gives us
strong grounds to challenge further growth."
by an average of 80% from 1990 levels. Ministers denied that Carnwath’s decision
represented a setback but said that aviation policy will be re-examined in 2011
when the new climate targets will be taken into account.
jobs and underpin economic growth". The prime minister said the government backed
it "after a detailed assessment showing that strict environmental limits for expansion
could be met".
consultation. Kate Harrison, a lawyer for the coalition against a third runway,
said: "Any expansion approved under the policy framework of the 2003 [white]
paper will now be open to legal challenge. What the judge said last week was
‘Forget that framework, it’s out of date’.
provide an attractive alternative to domestic and European flights.
if we are the next government, it won’t happen."
the environmental impact of a third runway when weighed up against its economic
laws to reveal how BAA and the Department for Transport "fixed" data to force
through expansion plans. In March 2008, internal documents showed BAA executives
prevented the use of data in a consultation document that showed Heathrow’s expansion
would cause unlawful levels of pollution and extra noise.
case. The 450-seat "virtual" jumbo was invented for environmental modelling after
BAA realised it would otherwise exceed noise and pollution limits.
Heathrow Victory in the High Court
Lord Justice Carnwath is hugely significant not just for Heathrow but for airport
expansion across the country.
the green light to draw up detailed plans for a third runway could not, in law,
be regarded as a policy decision because it failed to take full account of policy
developments in the areas of climate change and economics since the Air Transport
White Paper was published in 2003. The Government had admitted that it was the
2003 White Paper which framed the decision. He also found that the Government
had done insufficient work on how the increased number of passengers could be
accommodated on the roads and railways to warrant the third terminal being given
the green light.
It is, however, the finding around the White Paper that has most significance
for both Heathrow and for expansion proposals at other airports. The White Paper
is Government policy. As such all the expansion proposals at airports in the
UK are based on it. Until now the White Paper has not been able to be challenged
at public enquiries because it was Government policy.
This ruling changes all that. The judge has ruled that the White Paper is out-of-date
because it does not take account of crucial developments in policy in the fields
of climate change and economics. The White Paper is no longer ‘the bible’ campaigners
The Government says that it will take account of new policy developments when
drawing up its National Policy Statement in aviation, expected in 2011. If Labour
is still in power, we wait to see what will emerge. But until then all expansion
proposals based in the White Paper can be challenged.
The respected environment journalist, Geoffrey Lean, writing in the Daily Telegraph,
has said that the judgment may be even more significant than that. He is arguing
that the effect of the ruling is that the Government is required to take into
account the latest policy developments on climate change with regard to any new
The future of the third runway? The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats
have pledged to scrap it if they are in power after the forthcoming General Election.
This ruling makes it a lot more difficult for a Labour Government to proceed with
ruled that ministers’ decision to give a green light to the proposed 3rd runway
at Heathrow does not hold any weight. The judge dismissed the Government’s claims
to the contrary as ‘untenable in law and common sense’. If the Government wants
to pursue its plans for Heathrow expansion it must now go back to square one and
reconsider the entire case for the runway. The implications of today’s ruling
are profound, not just for Heathrow but for airport expansion plans across the
UK. Lord Justice Carnwath ruled that the 2003 Air Transport White Paper – the
foundation of expansion plans across the country – is obsolete because it is inconsistent
with the Climate Change Act 2008. 26.3.2010