Plan B Earth writes to Government lawyers, requesting a review of the ANPS under Section 6 of the Planning Act
After the High Court rejected all the legal challenges against the DfT’s backing of the 3rd Heathrow runway, Tim Crosland (Director of Plan B Earth) has written to the government’s legal department to request review of the ANPS (Airports National Policy Statement) under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008. This is in light of the approval by Parliament of a motion declaring a climate and environmental emergency. In addition, there has now been the publication of the advice to the UK government from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), on how the UK should aim for net zero carbon by, or before, 2050. The ANPS was designated on the assumption that it was premature to speculate on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK carbon target for 2050. That assumption has now been overtaken by events. The CCC’s report recommends that the Government implement a target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050 (which implies net zero CO2 emissions even earlier than that). It is now clear that the viability of Heathrow expansion must be assessed against the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Tim asks that the government lawyers clarify the position on this rapidly, to assist those considering appeals to the judgement.
Our ref: Heathrow/1952
2 May 2019
Direct email: firstname.lastname@example.org
…. 2 lawyers…..
General Public Law and Planning Litigation Team B5
Litigation Group, Government
One Kemble Street
London WC2B 4TS
Sent by email only: email@example.com
Request for a review of the ANPS under section 6 of the Planning Act
Dear X and Y
I write to request that the Secretary of State conduct a review of the ANPS under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008, in light of yesterday’s approval by Parliament of a motion declaring a climate and ecological emergency; and following the publication today of the Climate Change Committee’s report “Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming”1 . [ 1 https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Net-Zero-The-UKs-contribution-to- 2 ]
The ANPS was designated on the assumption that it was premature to speculate on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK carbon target for 2050.
That assumption has now been overtaken by events. The Committee’s report, commissioned by the Government in October 2018, recommends that the Government implement a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (which implies net zero carbon dioxide emissions even earlier than that).
In his forward, Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee, states:
“We conclude that net-zero is necessary, feasible and cost-effective. Necessary – to respond to the overwhelming evidence of the role of greenhouse gases in driving global climate change, and to meet the UK’s commitments as a signatory of the 2015 Paris Agreement …
I urge the governments of the UK, in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff to consider our advice carefully and legislate for these new targets as swiftly as possible. We must now increase our ambition to tackle climate change. The science demands it; the evidence is before you; we must start at once; there is no time to lose.”
The Committee’s advice is consistent with the conclusions of the report commissioned by the Secretary of State himself, “International aviation and the Paris Agreement temperature goals”2 , [ 2 International aviation and the Paris Agreement temperature goals ] published in December 2018 which states:
“any continued emissions of CO2 from aviation using fossil fuels beyond around 2050 will be inconsistent with the Paris Agreement goals in the absence of extra measures”.
It is also relevant that yesterday Parliament approved a motion to declare a climate and ecological emergency3 .[3 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48126677 ]
The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, said:
“We recognise that it is an emergency … The next generation will face the consequence if we don’t take action.”
It is now clear that the viability of Heathrow expansion must be assessed against the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which has been recommended by the Committee, and which is supported by research commissioned and published by the Secretary of State.
An early indication of your client’s position on this matter would assist us in assessing the necessity of an appeal against yesterday’s judgement of the High Court, potentially saving time and cost on all sides.
Director, Plan B
Government legal Department website is at
MPs make history by passing Commons motion to declare “environment and climate emergency”
May 1, 2019
MPs have passed a motion making the UK parliament the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency”. (It was not a vote, and it is not binding on the government). The symbolic move – recognising the urgency needed to combat the climate crisis – follows a wave of protests launched by the Extinction Rebellion strikers in recent weeks. Jeremy Corbyn called for the motion to “set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe”. He added: “We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to US president Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.” Theresa May had decided not to whip her MPs against Labour’s motion, and instead encouraged them to be out campaigning … to avoid voting. [What a government….] Michael Gove said the government recognises “the situation we face is an emergency”, but stopped short of meeting Labour’s demands to officially declare one. Caroline Lucas said “words are cheap – we need urgent action. So to be clear: you can’t declare a climate emergency AND continue business as usual – fracking, building new runways, industrialised farming etc.”
CCC report to government: Phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to end UK contribution to global warming
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has produced its report to government, on how the UK should aim to become zero-carbon by 2050. This comes over 10 years after the Climate Change Act was passed, and higher ambition is now needed than the earlier target of an 80% cut on the 1990 level by 2050. The world is on course for a temperature rise of 3 – 4°C later this century unless drastic action is taken. Net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to try to limit the rise to 1.5°C. The CCC hopes its targets can be achieved with known technologies, though it places a lot of faith in capturing carbon – not done on any scale at present. The CCC says the changes should be put into law as soon as possible, ideally before September 2019. There are current policies moving in the right direction, but “these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.” …”The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency.”
Judges reject judicial review challenges against DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway NPS
The judges at the High Court have handed down their judgement, which was to reject all the legal challenges against the DfT and the Secretary of State for Transport, on the government decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement). The judges chose to make their ruling exclusively on the legality, and “rationality” of the DfT decision, ignoring the facts and details of the Heathrow scheme and the NPS process – or the areas where relevant information was ignored by the DfT. In the view of the judges, the process had been conducted legally. They threw out challenges on air pollution, surface access, noise and habitats – as well as carbon emissions. The latter being on the grounds that the Paris Agreement, though ratified by the UK government, has not been incorporated into UK law, so the DfT did not have to consider it. The Paris Agreement requires countries to aim for only a global 1.5C rise in temperature, not 2 degrees (as in the current UK Climate Change Act). Read comments by Neil Spurrier, one of those making a legal challenge. There are now likely to be appeals, perhaps even direct to the Supreme Court.