Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge against Government decision on Heathrow runway NPS
Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge to Heathrow expansion
Formal legal action has begun at the High Court over claims the decision by the government to allow the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport is unlawful as it fails to address the UK’s climate change obligations.
The legal challenge brought by Friends of the Earth challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), the policy framework for expansion at Heathrow Airport devised by the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, which gives the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow.
Lawyers Leigh Day, on behalf of Friends of the Earth, filed papers with the High Court on 6 August 2018 asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. The environmental campaign charity claims that the NPS fails to account for all the impacts on future generations, who will be left with the adverse consequences of growth from aviation-increasing climate impacts.
In the papers filed at the High Court Friends of the Earth argues that the government’s Airports NPS is unlawful as it amounts to a breach of the UK’s climate change policy, as well as its sustainable development duties, due to the following:
• 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 third runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions;
• it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations of a third runway, who will be stranded with the climate-damaging infrastructure.
Friends of the Earth’s director of campaigns Liz Hutchins said:
“The government’s airports strategy completely ignores its obligations to tackle climate change – this is short-sighted, incredibly reckless and we believe it is unlawful.
“Allowing the aviation industry to pump more pollution into the atmosphere will make it far harder to prevent catastrophic climate change – and leaves future generations to suffer the consequences.
“It’s time to end our reliance on the fossil fuels that are already roasting our planet and threatening peoples’ lives, homes and livelihoods.”
Rowan Smith from the public law team at Leigh Day said:
“Our client believes that the expansion of Heathrow Airport will jeopardise the UK’s ability to make the very deep reductions in Greenhouse Gases that will be necessary to prevent global warming from causing catastrophic, irreversible impacts for the environment and future generations. In no sensible terms can this be described as sustainable development, when the additional costs of carbon-offsetting and the global warming potential of non-CO2 emissions from aviation do not feature in the government’s plans.
“The government has a legal duty to take into account climate change policy and the Paris agreement it has committed to with the global community, the Airports National Policy Statement does not adequately consider those factors and we therefore will argue that it is unlawful.”
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.”