Court rules that legal challenge by 4 councils cannot be heard until final Heathrow NPS published
Four councils that a negatively affected by Heathrow, plus Greenpeace and a local resident, applied for a legal challenge against the DfT because of its plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The case has now been struck out, at the High Court, by Mr Justice Cranston, on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim, because of the provision in the Planning Act 2008 which said that proceedings may only be brought in a six-week period that followed once the NPS was adopted, or if later, published. The claim is “precluded” until the NPS is published, and that might be the end of 2017 or early 2018. The court can then consider the challenge. The legal claim is because there was a failure by government to consult residents before going back on promises made repeatedly that a 3rd runway would not be built. John Sauven (Greenpeace) said: ‘Today’s ruling was about the timing of our legal challenge, not its merit. It doesn’t change the fact that ministers have no solution to the huge air and noise pollution problems caused by a third runway.” Ravi Govindia (Wandsworth) said “The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality. Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting.”
Heathrow airport expansion: Campaigners fail in High Court runway battle
By FIONA SIMPSON (Evening Standard)
An attempt by campaigners to bring a High Court challenge against a third runway at Heathrow Airport has failed.
The decision to expand the airport – as opposed to building the extension at Gatwick – was backed by the Government in October.
The £16 billion plan immediately sparked protests and legal challenges.
A coalition of local councils, including Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead, together with Greenpeace UK and a Hillingdon resident, claimed the decision was unlawful.
The group alleged there was a failure to consult residents before going back on from promises that it would never be built.
They also claimed that the Government failed to recognise the project’s unlawful air quality impacts.
But lawyers for the Transport Secretary argued that the judicial review could not proceed – saying it should not be heard until after the consultation on the National Policy Statement (NPS) on aviation is published either later this year or early next year.
On Monday in London, Mr Justice Cranston struck out the case on the basis that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim.
James Maurici QC told the judge that there was a “preliminary and insuperable obstacle” to the claim proceeding.
The court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter because of the provision in the Planning Act 2008 which said that proceedings may only be brought in a six-week period that followed once the NPS was adopted, or if later, published.
He said: “That is not expected to happen until late 2017 at the earliest. Before that time this claim is precluded. This is a complete answer to the claim at this time.”
The coalition said that the 2008 Act has no such time limitations and that, in any event, the decision was made before the Planning Act process started.
The judge said that his decision followed from the language of the relevant section of the Act, the legislative purpose and the overall statutory context and history.
“Once the Secretary of State adopts and publishes an NPS the court will have jurisdiction to entertain the challenges the claimants advance. For the present this claim must be struck out.”
Following the ruling, Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “The Government has taken a colossal gamble by delaying this legal action for at least a year.
“The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality.
“Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting so they should face this challenge now or abandon the third runway.”
Greenpeace UK executive director, John Sauven, said: ‘Today’s ruling was about the timing of our legal challenge, not its merit. It doesn’t change the fact that ministers have no solution to the huge air and noise pollution problems caused by a third runway. By forging ahead with a flawed consultation ministers are just delaying an inevitable legal challenge, wasting more time, energy, and public money in the process.
‘Expanding Heathrow will heap more misery on thousands of Londoners already breathing illegal levels of air pollution and make it impossible for the government to comply with air quality laws. The government should ditch this project as they have promised to do many times in the past.’
Leader of Windsor & Maidenhead council, Simon Dudley said of the decision: “We are disappointed for our residents but respect the decision of the courts. “We will now participate in the upcoming public consultation process and would encourage all our residents to do likewise.” (Twitter)
In the 4 councils’ legal challenge, lawyers say Government plan for Heathrow runway is ‘unlawful’ because people believed repeated promises
Four Conservative councils affected by Heathrow (with Greenpeace, and a local resident) are bringing a legal challenge against the government, because of the plans for a third runway. They say the plan is “unlawful” because locals bought houses and sent children to schools due to repeated Tory promises it would not happen. The councils argue that their residents had a “legitimate” expectation” the project would not be approved, due to assurances received. They have identified 19 “broken promises” made by David Cameron, Theresa May and other political figures saying the 3rd runway would be scrapped. One is by Theresa May in 2009, telling her constituents she will fight the 3rd runway. The lawyers, Harrison Grant, say such promises are not in law to be treated as mere “empty gestures” but legally significant promises. People had, reasonably enough, believed them. There was a hearing at the High Court on 19th and 20th January, and a ruling may be given this coming week. This will decide whether the councils can bring forward their judicial review claims. The DfT has tried to get the case thrown out or delayed till after there is a parliamentary vote on the National Policy Statement on Heathrow – probably around the end of this year.
Four councils + Greenpeace have served legal papers on Government over Heathrow runway decision
Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, together with Greenpeace and a resident of Hillingdon, have today served legal papers on the government for unlawfully supporting the expansion of Heathrow. In a legal submission to the High Court, the ‘coalition’ is seeking a Judicial Review of the government’s decision to support the expansion of the airport – something that which the Government previously promised would never happen. Harrison Grant Solicitors, on behalf of the coalition have filed a formal request for a judicial review. If successful, it is hoped the case will be heard in the High Court early next year. Together, the claimants argue that the Government has failed to recognise the project’s unlawful air quality impacts and that the consultation held to make the decision was fundamentally flawed. Therefore, the expansion of the airport cannot go ahead. In addition, the legal challenge seeks to hold Government to the promise that a third runway would never be built. If the request is successful, and the coalition wins the judicial review, the decision to proceed with the runway would be overturned. Ray Puddifoot said “There are two grounds of challenge at this stage. In addition to our claim that there has been a significant breach of established air quality laws, we have also claimed that the Government has acted contrary to our legitimate expectation that it would honour its repeated promises not to expand Heathrow.”