Climate Change charity Plan B begins legal action against Grayling over Government’s Heathrow expansion plans
Climate change campaign Plan B, has started legal action against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his plans for Heathrow expansion. Plan B say the proposal breaches legal obligations in the Planning Act to alleviate the impact of climate change. Plan B join 4 other legal challenges against the runway plans (5 councils and Greenpeace UK, Heathrow Hub, a resident Neil Spurrier, and Friends of the Earth UK). Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: ‘The Government has an express obligation under the Planning Act to promote sustainable development, with specific reference to the impacts of climate change. That means safeguarding the interests of current and future generations of UK citizens. Plan B says the NPS does not even consider the Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or that in April this year, the Government committed to a review of its climate targets in light of the Paris Agreement. Plan B’s legal action focuses exclusively on climate change impact.
Plan B begins legal action against Heathrow expansion
Climate Change Campaigners Launch Legal Action Against Heathrow Expansion
6th August 2018 (Plan B press release)
Climate change charity Plan B, has started legal action against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his plans for Heathrow expansion.
Plan B say the proposal breaches legal obligations in the Planning Act to alleviate the impact of climate change.
Plan B join a number of others, including Greenpeace and a number of councils, who are challenging the development.
Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: ‘The Government has an express obligation under the Planning Act to promote sustainable development, with specific reference to the impacts of climate change. That means safeguarding the interests of current and future generations of UK citizens.
‘The National Policy Statement designated by Chris Grayling in June does not even consider the Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or the fact that in April this year, the Government committed to a review of its climate targets in light of the Paris Agreement.
‘We consider that to be an obvious and serious breach of the Act, which renders the plans to expand Heathrow airport unlawful. Indeed Lord Deben, the Chair of the Government’s advisory body on climate change, the CCC, wrote to Chris Grayling in June to express his surprise at the Government’s failure to consider its climate change obligations in this context. That’s why we’ve today (6 August 2018) submitted a claim for judicial review to the High Court.’
Plan B’s legal action is distinct from that being brought by other organisations, and focuses exclusively on climate change impact rather that of noise or air pollution
More about Plan B:
Plan B is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) registered with UK Charity Commissioners (registered no. 1167953). https://planb.earth/about/
Plan B has been established to support strategic legal action against climate change. By ensuring those responsible for greenhouse gas emissions bear the costs of loss and damage, we will increase the incentives for investment in clean technologies, harnessing market forces towards a better future for us all.
That by 2021:
- (SO 1) Existing legal principles, which provide accountability and responsibility for climate change loss and damage, have been successfully applied and integrated into the market economy
- (SO 2) Robust, science-based policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, in support of the climate temperature goal, have been implemented nationally and internationally
- (SO 3) Victims of climate change have access to effective protections and remedies.
What we do
We will, inter alia:
- Raise awareness about the critical role of strategic legal action in tackling climate change.
- Develop and make publicly available information and resources to support legal actions.
- Work in collaboration with other organisations to develop and implement a broad, networked strategy for bridging ‘the emissions gap’.
- Support and commence legal action where appropriate.
- Develop guidance for governments on developing and implementing legal and regulatory frameworks sufficient to meet their legal responsibilities.
Operating as a small, niche organisation, and avoiding unnecessary overheads, we will target our resources on high impact interventions, introducing innovative methodologies that may be adopted by others at scale. Partnership and collaboration will be at the heart of its approach.
Over the period 2016-21 we will aim to build strong relationships with key partners in government, civil society, academia and industry, including by acting as a catalyst for network and strategy development in support of common goals.
What makes us different
There are other not-for-profit organisations of environmental lawyers supporting action to address climate change. Often such organisations have a regional focus and bring cases in response to particular projects or activities. We will aim to work with them and ensure our activities our complementary and mutually supportive.
Plan B is unique in focussing on the development of a net-worked, international legal strategy to meet the long-term climate goal; and in developing and publishing legal tools and resources to support citizens, NGOs and others in bringing their own actions around the globe.
About the web-site
The Plan B web-site is a publicly available resource designed to help lawyers, NGOS and others evaluate possible legal avenues to containing dangerous climate change and pursuing climate justice. It does not constitute legal advice. Anyone considering pursuing litigation should consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction.
Making detailed legal analysis available online has a number of advantages over a traditional text-book:
- It is freely accessible to all;
- It can be regularly updated; and
- Users of the web-site can easily contribute ideas, suggestions and corrections (helping to ensure the overall integrity of materials).
Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge against Government decision on Heathrow runway NPS
Friends of the Earth (FoE) believes the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement, (NPS) which backs building a Heathrow 3rd runway, fails to address the UK’s climate change obligations. So they have started formal legal action at the High Court. The legal action challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the NPS, which gives the go-ahead to a 3rd runway. Lawyers Leigh Day, on behalf of FoE, have filed papers with the High Court – asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. They argue the NPS is illegal because • it does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008; • it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C; • it fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a 3rd runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions; and • it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations. A decision on whether there will be a full hearing about these issues is expected to be made this autumn.
Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have issued JR proceedings in the High Court re. Heathrow runway
Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have now issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Transport, on the basis that he has unlawfully designated the Airports National Policy Statement [NPS] under the Planning Act 2008. The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London. The grounds of challenge are on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, breach of the habitats directive and a flawed consultation process. Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “Once again we have a government that is trying to avoid applying both the correct legal process and common sense to the question of airport expansion. The abject failure to address the far reaching consequences for both the environment and the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of residents across London is simply not acceptable.” The many flaws in the scheme need to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the legal process, and its serious failings exposed.
Heathrow runway rival – “Heathrow Hub” – launches legal challenge to DfT on its 3rd runway decision
The sponsor of a rival project to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Heathrow Hub, has started its challenge against the DfT for its decision to back the airport’s north-west runway scheme. Sky News has obtained a letter sent on Friday 27th July by lawyers acting for Heathrow Hub, which paves the way for it to seek a full judicial review of the Government’s decision. They have engaged Martin Kingston QC, a planning expert at No5 Chambers, and Robert O’Donoghue, a prominent figure in cases of competition law from Brick Court, to fight its case. In the pre-action letter, the law firm DAC Beachcroft accused the DfT of failing to provide information about the Heathrow decision-making process sought under freedom of information (FoI) laws. It requested that the DfT’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) be quashed on 5 principal grounds. These include a flawed understanding by ministers of the capacity for new air traffic movements created by extending the airport’s northern runway, to the west. Heathrow Hub also believes it was unlawful for the DfT to “effectively [give Heathrow] a veto” over their proposal (the airport always favoured their own scheme). Heathrow Hub is a privately owned company, funded by a hedge fund manager. There is also the challenge by 5 councils and the Mayor London, and one by a private citizen, Neil Spurrier.
Resident affected by Heathrow noise has given notice to seek Judicial Review against DfT re. runway
Neil Spurrier, a resident in Teddington, a member of the Teddington Action Group (TAG) has given notice that he is seeking a Judicial Review, in the event of Parliament voting in favour of the Airports NPS, to give consent to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. Teddington is already very badly affected by noise, when the airport is operating on easterlies. A 3rd runway would make the noise problem far worse. Neil’s letter to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, says: “I am intending to bring a claim for Judicial Review should the National Policy Statement be put before Parliament and subsequently designated as a National Policy Statement in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act 2008.” The Matter being challenged is: “The Designation of the National Policy Statement of new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England and in particular the choice of Heathrow airport for expansion with a third runway. I would intend to ask the Court for an order declaring the National Policy Statement void through breaching existing laws and would ask for a prohibiting order prohibiting the continuation of the National Policy Statement or the granting of a Development Consent following the National Policy Statement.”