Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing
The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase. Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow” and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”. The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.
The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60 per cent increase.
Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, which was told the expansion would effectively create a “new airport”.
On Monday, the first day of a two-week hearing, Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow.”
He added that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”.
The case is being brought against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling by local authorities and residents in London affected by the expansion and environmental charities.
Just one of the many horrors of the expansion planned by Heathrow would be as many as 700 more flights using the airport per day. Every day. That means a MASSIVELY increased noise burden. And hugely higher CO2 emissions. And much more air pollution, from both planes & vehicles
They claim the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.
The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament.
Mr Pleming said the building of a third runway at Heathrow, which was chosen as the preferred option for expanding airport capacity in the south east of England, is “politically controversial”.
He told the court Heathrow is the “busiest two-runway airport in the world” and is situated in a densely populated area.
He said: “If the (third runway) is the means of achieving expansion, there will be widespread consequences.
“There will be hundreds of thousands of additional flights each year across central London, and also affecting the south east.
“Thousands of people’s homes will be demolished. Hundreds of thousands will experience increased noise, worsened traffic and harmful air pollution.”
He said there were “errors” in the steps leading to the NPS which mean it is invalid.
Charities Friends Of The Earth and Plan B argue Mr Grayling failed to take enough account of the impact on air quality when reaching the decision to approve the third runway.
Lawyers representing Mr Grayling said the claimants’ case is “unarguable” and “premature”, as they will all have the opportunity to make representations at a later stage in the planning process.
Support from Labour MPs helped push through the proposals to expand Europe’s busiest airport with an overwhelming majority of 296 in a Commons vote in June last year.
Mr Grayling said at the time that the new runway would set a “clear path to our future as a global nation in the post-Brexit world”.
Construction could begin in 2021, with the third runway operational by 2026, the hearing, which is before Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate, heard.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency includes Heathrow, said: “This is an iconic battleground in terms of climate change.”
Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, who previously resigned over the Government’s decision before returning to the Conservative Party, said: “It is a massive issue locally, but it’s a London issue. If you look at the proposals for flight paths, they are not specific, but they affect most of London.”
Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends Of The Earth, said: “We absolutely do not see how you can have aviation expansion in the UK… while cutting our carbon emissions by 50% in the next 12 years.”
Executive director of Back Heathrow Parmjit Dhanda, who supports the expansion, said: “There is an awful lot of support for this project. [There were about 6 people outside the court, in a wan looking little gathering …. AW comment]
“It is really important that we see both sides of the argument.
“I think if this expansion did not go ahead, it would be a disaster for Britain in a post-Brexit world.”
A Department for Transport spokeswoman previously said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will provide a boost to the economy, increase our international links and create tens of thousands of new jobs.
“As with any major infrastructure project, we have been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position.”
A Heathrow spokeswoman previously said: “Our work in delivering Britain’s new runway will continue in tandem with this process following overwhelming support in Parliament.
“We remain focused on the work needed for our development consent order submission in 2020 and we are getting on with the delivery of this project which will benefit the whole of the UK.”
The transcript of the proceedings on the first day of the hearings, Monday 11th March, can be seen here:
Severe’ impact on residents of 3rd runway at Heathrow laid out in court
Judicial review focuses on air quality, climate change, noise and transport access
By Josh Spero (Financial Times)
Building a third runway at Heathrow airport would have “severe” negative consequences for local residents, the High Court heard at the opening of a legal challenge to the government’s backing of the scheme.
Heathrow’s expansion was recommended by the Airports Commission and approved by MPs in June 2018 with a majority of 296. After the vote, the government adopted a national policy statement, which contained principles for the expansion. The judicial review, which is expected to last two weeks, is looking at the process of the statement’s adoption.
Five challenges to the decision on the future of the UK’s biggest aviation hub are being heard together, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities, campaigning organisation Greenpeace and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on the grounds of air quality, climate change, noise pollution and transport access.
Introducing the councils’ case, Nigel Pleming QC said the expansion would enable Heathrow to add 260,000 flights a year to its current 480,000 capacity. “The new development will lead to a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow,” he said, referring to the UK’s second-busiest airport. “The adverse consequences for affected residents . . . are bound to be severe.”
Mr Pleming, who acted for one of the councils in the 2010 challenge that derailed Heathrow’s last expansion attempt, laid out the grounds for the current review, which included a claim that the transport secretary had ignored the “high risk” that expansion would breach air quality standards.
He also said targets for changing how people travelled to Heathrow, moving from private cars to public transport, were “neither adequate nor achievable”, citing likely overcrowding on the London Underground’s Piccadilly line, which serves the airport as one example.
Lord Justice Hickinbottom, one of two judges presiding, said that while the complainants and members of the public had “sincere and deep concerns about issues such as air quality”, the review was concerned with the legality of the Airports National Policy Statement, rather than the merits or otherwise of expanding Heathrow.
Simon Dudley, leader of Windsor & Maidenhead council, one of the claimants in the review, said that since the Airports Commission had recommended a third runway at Heathrow, the process had developed a political inevitability: “We can’t stop going along that conveyor belt until we stop Heathrow in court,” Mr Dudley said.
He recommended building a hub airport elsewhere in the UK.
At a rally outside the High Court before the case opened, Susan Kramer, former MP for Richmond Park in south-west London, a constituency near Heathrow, said the cost of the third runway would finally fall on the public and compared it to budget overruns with Crossrail and the HS2 railway. “This whole strategy of underestimating the costs to get a project over the line and leaving it to the taxpayer to pick up the burden has run its course,” she said.
The Department for Transport said before the hearing opened: “As with any major infrastructure project, the government has been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position. We recognise the local impact of any expansion, which is why a world-class package of mitigations would need to be delivered.”