Theresa May’s local council, Windsor & Maidenhead, vows court fight if she backs Heathrow runway

The Tory leader of Theresa May’s own local council, Windsor and Maidenhead, has vowed to use “all necessary financial resources” for a High Court battle to block a third runway at Heathrow.  Councillor Simon Dudley, Leader of the council, pledged the legal action to protect residents “irrespective of who the Prime Minister is”.  He has joined forces with Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Hillingdon councils for the looming court battle if the Government backs Heathrow expansion. “We have very significant financial resources,” he said. “We will put all the necessary financial resources behind a vigorous legal action.”  The Council’s lawyers, Harrison Grant, wrote to David Cameron this year warning him that his “no ifs, no buts” promise before the 2010 general election to oppose a third runway had created a “legitimate expectation” among residents that the project would not go ahead. So if it were given the green light, they argued, it would be an “abuse of power correctable by the courts”.  Mr Dudley said Windsor and Maidenhead had allocated £30,000 for the legal battle and signalled that this could rise to hundreds of thousands.  The council’s concerns include more pollution, noise and traffic as well as extra housing needs created by a larger Heathrow.  A recent poll in the areas suggested around 38% opposed the runway, with 34% in favour of it.
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Theresa May’s local council vows court fight if she backs new Heathrow runway

By NICHOLAS CECIL (Evening Standard)
16.9.2016

The Tory leader of Theresa May’s own local council today vowed to use “all necessary financial resources” for a High Court battle to block a third runway at Heathrow.

Councillor Simon Dudley, leader of Windsor and Maidenhead council, pledged the legal action to protect residents “irrespective of who the Prime Minister is”.

He has joined forces with Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Hillingdon councils for the looming court battle if the Government, as expected, backs Heathrow expansion.

“We have very significant financial resources,” he said. “We will put all the necessary financial resources behind a vigorous legal action.”

The town halls’ lawyers, Harrison Grant, wrote to David Cameron this year warning him that his “no ifs, no buts” promise before the 2010 general election to oppose a third runway had created a “legitimate expectation” among residents that the project would not go ahead.

So if it were given the green light, they argued, it would be an “abuse of power correctable by the courts”.

Mr Dudley said Windsor and Maidenhead had allocated £30,000 for the legal battle and signalled that this could rise to hundreds of thousands.

“We are going to protect our residents irrespective of who the Prime Minister is,” he added.

The council’s concerns include more pollution, noise and traffic as well as extra housing needs.

Following the Brexit vote and Maidenhead MP Mrs May becoming Prime Minister, the council commissioned a poll to gauge whether local opinion over Heathrow expansion had changed.

The survey found it was broadly stable, with 38 per cent opposed to Heathrow’s proposed third runway, compared with 34 per cent for, while 50 per cent backed another runway at Gatwick, with 13 per cent against.

The Government is set to decide within weeks which airport should grow.  Heathrow is expected to get the go-ahead and Boris Johnson today repeated his strong opposition to it, branding it a “fantasy” which should be “consigned to the dustbin”.

However, Sussex MPs still fear that ministers could opt for a bigger Gatwick. They have written to rail minister Paul Maynard warning him that services along the Brighton main line would go into “complete meltdown” if Gatwick got a second runway.

The Gatwick Coordination Group of MPs said there would be a “devastating impact” from Gatwick expansion on the “already beleaguered Southern rail service”, as many of the extra travellers would come by rail.

But a Gatwick spokesman said: “The Airports Commission itself concluded road and rail improvements already under way or planned will more than meet the demand.” [That is not exactly what they said – they acknowledged problems that they said Gatwick should pay to sort out.  See link ]

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/theresa-mays-local-council-vows-court-fight-if-she-backs-new-heathrow-runway-a3346631.html

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See earlier:

 

Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon council leaders write to Chris Grayling to warn legal action threatened if Heathrow expansion is approved

Three Conservative local authorities – Richmond, Wandsworth and Hillingdon – have written to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, warning that court proceedings will be launched if a Heathrow 3rd runway is approved.  The 3 council leaders, Lord True, Ravi Govindia and Ray Puddifoot, say any approval given to Heathrow would create “severe political and social rupture” at a time when unity is needed. It is also undeliverable and unlawful. They are already preparing a “substantial and strong legal challenge” and say “We must also be very clear that we intend to launch a legal challenge against the government in the unfortunate event that it resolves to support Heathrow expansion or to carry out any further investigatory works into these projects,” The reasons for the challenge are that bad air quality around the airport already breaches legal limits, and with a  3rd runway, the extra planes and cars in west London would “blight the lives” of millions of people. The  council leaders say, in their letter to Chris Grayling, that the runway “would be an environmental disaster for our communities”. Unfortunately they also urge government to back a 2nd Gatwick runway instead, content to  push the misery that they are keen to avoid for their own residents onto others.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/07/richmond-wandsworth-and-hillingdon-council-leaders-write-to-chris-grayling-to-warn-legal-action-threatened-if-heathrow-expansion-is-approved/

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Earlier:

Four councils affected by Heathrow threaten to take legal action against Government if it backs Heathrow runway

Four Conservative controlled councils – Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils –  are preparing to sue the government over a proposed 3rd Heathrow runway. The four councils are near Heathrow, and affected adversely by it. The warning to David Cameron, from their lawyers, says an escalation in the number of flights would be “irrational and unlawful”.  The legal letter to No 10 says court proceedings will be launched unless the Prime Minister categorically rules out expansion of Heathrow. It says “insurmountable environmental problems” around the airport mean it can never be expanded without subjecting residents to excessive pollution and noise. The councils have believed, since the launch of the (government appointed) Airports Commission’s final report, that it made a “flawed assessment” of Heathrow’s ability to deal with environmental issues (noise, NO2, and carbon emissions among them). The councils also say David Cameron’s previous promise – “No ifs, No buts, no 3rd runway” – had created a “legitimate expectation” among residents that there would be no runway. The authorities have appointed Harrison Grant, the solicitors that led a successful High Court challenge in 2010 against the former Labour government’s attempt to expand Heathrow.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/03/four-councils-affected-by-heathrow-threaten-to-take-legal-action-against-government-if-it-backs-heathrow-runway/

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Earlier:

Flightpath consultation must come before runway decision

The Prime Minister has been warned that signalling Government support for a third Heathrow runway would be unlawful unless the new flightpaths needed to operate the landing strip are first subject to public consultation.

6 October 2015 (Hillingdon Council)

The warning comes from the leaders of Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils who have written to Mr Cameron to highlight a series of flaws and omissions in the Airports Commission’s final report on aviation capacity.

They point out that by law, changes to London’s airspace require open consultation so a decision to expand Heathrow would pre-empt this statutory process.  Approving a runway clearly infers the associated flightpaths will also be approved.

David Cameron is now considering the commission’s dossier which recommends expanding Heathrow. Despite scrutinising the new runway proposal for over two years the commissioners failed to identify the location of its new flightpaths, nor carry out the necessary consultation.

Instead, the final report, which costs tax payers in the region of £25m,  asks ministers to approve a third runway at Heathrow without telling them where the planes will fly over London and the south east.

The local councils have now pointed out that the commission’s recommendation is pointing the Government down a legal cul-de-sac and has urged the PM to dismiss the report.

The letter concludes that the local authorities “reserve their rights to take whatever action is in their power to protect their residents and communities from the devastating impacts of a new runway at Heathrow.”

Leader of Hillingdon Council Ray Puddifoot said:

“Even the airports commission has to agree that runways need flightpaths. If you approve one you have to approve the other.

“It will be unlawful for any Government to approve a new runway without publishing detailed flightpath data so the communities affected can exercise their legal right to scrutinise the plans. This is a major obstacle that can’t be put off much longer.”

Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said:

“The law is very clear. Communities have to be consulted on air space changes and once those maps are finally published the backlash will completely change the course of this debate.

“It’s very hard to justify why a two year aviation investigation failed to unearth this key piece of information. We’ve made it very clear to the prime minister that the commission’s recommendation can’t be followed until it is out in the open for all to see.”

https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/30331/Flightpath-consultation-must-come-before-runway-decision