More claimants could join the alliance in the coming days as media reports have suggested a final decision has now been delayed until next week.
Ministers have refused to rule out Heathrow from their airport development shortlist, leading the campaign group to prepare grounds for judicial review.
Greenpeace and the four local authorities say both Heathrow expansion schemes would be unlawful due to their unrivalled environmental impacts, which include exacerbating illegal levels of air pollution, increasing Europe’s worst aircraft noise footprint and stretching the local transport network beyond breaking point.
The councils jointly instructed Harrison Grant Solicitors to prepare their legal strategy last year and Greenpeace will now share costs and bring new environmental expertise to the partnership.
The campaigners also worked together back in 2010 to successfully overturn the Brown Government’s backing for a third runway in the High Court. Later that year the scheme was emphatically ruled out by the incoming Cameron Government.
The group say today’s Heathrow expansion scheme is even bigger and has more severe environmental impacts than the 2010 proposal, and will fail the same legal tests. They argue that new evidence on the severe health impacts of air and noise pollution make the new scheme far less likely to pass judicial review.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “A third runway at Heathrow would be an air pollution and carbon time bomb. It would jeopardise the government’s chances of meeting legally-binding air pollution and climate targets designed to protect the health and security of millions of people. If ministers are willing to trample over these fundamental laws, we’re ready to take them to court to stop them.
“Theresa May has made much of her determination to help ordinary people and hold corporations to account. The decision on airport expansion will be the acid test of whether she’s willing to deliver on that promise.
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: “The Prime Minister should now be in no doubt about the scale of opposition Heathrow expansion will face. A scheme this environmentally offensive will unite a force of opposition no Government can overcome. It’s wrong on every level, legally undeliverable and will end in failure after years of wasted effort. We once again urge the Government to accept the inevitable and rule out Heathrow.”
Leader of Hillingdon Council Ray Puddifoot said: “A new runway at Heathrow will make already illegal air pollution levels around the airport worse and give Heathrow a noise pollution record that is worse than the top five European airports put together. We urge the Government to consider Gatwick as the most realistic and sustainable option, and one which can be delivered at a much reduced cost to the taxpayer and with far less damage to the environment and wellbeing of people.”
Leader of Richmond Council Lord True said: “Let no-one ever call our residents nimbys. Day in day out they put up with the worst noise and air quality pollution in Europe from before dawn to midnight. But enough is enough. A Bigger Heathrow is wrong not just for environmental reasons, but wrong for competition, wrong for security from terrorism and wrong because it represents the very opposite of what this new government says it stands for – the victory of the privileged few, international monopolistic investors, over the lives of ordinary families. It will never be built”.
Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council Simon Dudley: “A third runway at Heathrow isn’t a deliverable alternative so isn’t a realistic choice. As the number of claimants in our judicial review group increases, so does the coalition of opposition and available financial resources to stop a third runway at Heathrow, and protect our residents”.
Richmond, Merton, Kingston & Croydon councils write to PM to stop Heathrow runway, and choose Gatwick
In addition to the four councils that will legally challenge the government if it decides on a Heathrow runway (Windsor & Maidenhead, Richmond, Hillingdon and Wandsworth) now four councils have written to the Prime Minister to oppose a Heathrow runway decision. Richmond, Merton, Kingston and Croydon councils, calling themselves the South London Partnership, made the case to Theresa May to approve a Gatwick runway instead. All these councils know the highly adverse impact of the noise of Heathrow flights on their residents, and would prefer that noise burden to be pushed to others (who do not have the opportunity to vote them out – as with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also backs a Gatwick runway. They also say: “One thing in particular on which we want to contribute is ensuring the transport links to Gatwick and connectivity more widely, including into our area, central London and with other key corridors, are developed to support the full potential of airport expansion.” Presumably they appreciate that the transport links to Gatwick are very poor, and would not be able to cope with a doubling in the number of air passengers. Conservative Richmond Council leader Lord True said the government should “stand up for ordinary families, rather than ‘big business’”.
Theresa May at odds with her Maidenhead council and local Tory party chairman over Heathrow
The Chairman of Theresa May’s local Maidenhead Conservative Association is part of a group threatening to sue her government if it approves the 3rd runway at Heathrow. Cllr Geoffrey Hill sits on a council warning it will launch legal action within days if Heathrow expansion is backed. Senior Windsor & Maidenhead council figures believe increasing capacity at Heathrow would blight their residents with even more noise and pollution -and are determined to stop the project. Theresa May is widely expected to back Heathrow over Gatwick when she makes a decision on airport expansion – perhaps on Tuesday 18th October (or 11th?). The Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead, which she has represented since 1997, is badly overflown by Heathrow planes. Mrs May voiced her concerns about a 3rd runway before the 2010 election but has since made little public comment on the development. (See her comments from 2010 and 2009 below). Windsor and Maidenhead council is one of 4 local authorities threatening to challenge any decision to build a Heathrow runway through the courts. Simon Dudley, the Tory leader of the council, said their judicial review could see the case in the courts for years, delaying or preventing the runway’s construction. The council has put aside £30,000 to fight the legal battle. Maidenhead councillors campaigned on opposing an extension of Heathrow locally before the 2015 election.