Heathrow campaigners granted Court hearing over third runway decision

6.8.2009   (HACAN press release)

Campaigners against the third runway at Heathrow have been granted a hearing
in the High Court to rule on the campaigners’ complaints (1).     In doing so the
Judge recognised the "significant public interest element to the case" as well
as the need for "clarification" of the Transport Secretary’s statement to Parliament
in January giving the green light to expansion (2).

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, the campaign group representing residents under
the Heathrow flight paths, said,   "We are delighted to get a court hearing.   Once
again the Government has been put on the defensive over its controversial third
runway decision.   Of course it is likely the Conservatives will scrap the plans
anyway if they win the next Election." (3)

Geraldine Nicholson, Chair of the No Third Runway Action Group, said,  "The Government
will not be at all happy with this decision.   It causes them to defend their controversial
and incoherent policies on Heathrow."


Notes for Editors

(1).   Court Order ( link to Court Order (pdf)       The court order is for a "rolled-up" hearing in open court, where permission
and substantive issues are considered at the same time.    
(2).   Geoff Hoon was Transport Secretary at the time, subsequently replaced by
Lord Adonis.
(3).   Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are committed to scrapping
a Third Runway



see also

Legal challenge launched against Government’s decision to back Heathrow 3rd runway

7.4.2009   (press release from the organisations involved)

A coalition representing   millions of people today launched a legal challenge
against the Government over its decision in January to give BAA permission to
draw up detailed plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.   The coalition
includes residents’ organisations NoTRAG (No Third Runway Action Group) and HACAN
as well as seven local councils and leading green groups (1).              

The key points of the challenge will be:

–   That the UK risks breaching noise targets and the EU legal limits on air pollution;

–   That the decision will seriously undermine the Government’s efforts to meet
its emissions target to tackle climate change;

 –   That the final plan the Government adopted was so different from the proposals
it consulted on there should have been further consultation

Kate Harrison, a solicitor at Harrison Grant, acting for the claimants said:    
"By bringing this Judicial Review, the courts will be able to give their judgement
on whether there should be a full consultation and whether the decision is compatible
with the government’s other legal obligations and policy statements."

When the Government consulted on its plans for a third runway and a sixth terminal
last year it said that it would only give BAA the go-ahead to draw up plans for
expansion if it was confident that the EU legal limits on air pollution, due to
come into force in 2010, would not be breached.   It also said that the size of
the area within the 57 decibel noise contour should be same as it was in 2002.  
Already there are areas around Heathrow where air pollution exceeds the EU legal
limit. The claimants are arguing that the decision the Government made that the
introduction of cleaner and quieter planes will offset the noise and pollution
from a predicted 50% increase in flights is faulty and "irrational" in law.  

In its decision in January the Government attempted to overcome these problems
by saying that it would limit the number of flights on the new runway if it appeared
that the noise, air pollution or emissions targets would be breached.   The claimants
are arguing the, if the Government did limit the flights in this way, it would
mean that BAA may not be able to make money on its huge investment in the third
runway.   Therefore, the claimants are arguing that this is an unrealistic and
flawed decision.   And, in any case, it is so different from the proposals that
were consulted upon that there should have been a further consultation.

Geraldine Nicholson, the Chair of NoTRAG, said, "This legal challenge shows that
we are prepared to use every avenue open to us to save our communities from destruction.
We are fighting the Government in the courts and fighting to win."

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN, said, "The final decision on a third runway
was cobbled together at the last minute to keep a divided Cabinet happy.   It is
little wonder it appears so open to a legal challenge."  

Notes for Editors:

(1).   Backing the challenge are NoTRAG, HACAN, 7 local authorities in West London
(Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond
upon Thames, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead) and Greenpeace, WWF-UK,


see also     Legal challenge to Heathrow runway plan    (BBC) 7.4.2009

see also

Heathrow expansion protesters win legal challenge

7.8.2009   (Financial Times)

By Jim Pickard

The case against the expansion of Heathrow will be heard in public later this
year after a High Court victory by a coalition of green groups, councils and local

The judge ruled that the case for the third runway at the west London airport
must be held in open court because of the public interest element.

A three-day hearing, expected in the autumn, could pave the way for the full
judicial review sought by protesters.

At the heart of the case is a statement to parliament on January 15 by Geoff
Hoon , the then transport secretary, giving his backing to the expansion.

Mr Hoon said ministers wanted emissions from Heathrow to return to 2005 levels
by 2050. However, he later seemed to distance himself from the statement.

Mrs Justice Dobbs yesterday said that some of the claimants’ grounds were stronger
than others. But she added: “There are some areas in which clarification is desirable,
including the issue of the defendant’s statement to parliament.”

Environmental groups including Greenpeace, WWF-UK and RSPB have argued that the
Heathrow decision is incompatible with the government’s climate change policy.
They believe that the third runway will contribute to higher emissions both from
aircraft and from a rise in “surface traffic” on roads surrounding the airport.

“Putting 220,000 more planes in the sky is completely at odds with the urgent
need to slash emissions and stop runaway climate change,” said John Sauven, executive
director of Greenpeace.

Environmentalists say the argument for the third runway has been undermined by
this week’s comments by Lord Adonis, who succeeded Mr Hoon in June, about high-speed
rail replacing large numbers of short-haul flights.

Lord Adonis also saidthat he was not “agnostic” about which mode of transport
should take priority.

The Department for Transport yesterday said in a terse statement: “We stand by
the decisions made on Heathrow in January.”

The £9bn expansion of Heathrow by its owner BAA will increase the number of flights
from 480,000 to 605,000 a year. Any more increases would depend on whether Britain
was on track to reduce its total aviation emissions.

The plans face political headwinds, however, given that the Conservatives – widely
expected to form the next government – are committed to scrapping the plans.

Mr Hoon told the Financial Times in January that he fully expected legal action
over his decision to back the expansion.

The groups campaigning against a larger Heathrow have won the backing of Boris
Johnson, the Tory mayor of London. But several business bodies are urging the
government to hold firm, arguing that Heathrow is close to full capacity and needs
to be larger to meet growing demand.



see also


New Heathrow runway ‘will cause chaos across London’

 20th February 2010     London transport bosses today attacked plans for a third runway at Heathrow as
they claimed it would cause severe Tube overcrowding. Transport for London insiders
said the Piccadilly line could be thrown into chaos by demand from millions of
extra passengers a year and people could also be "pushed back into their cars".
In its first official statement on the Heathrow expansion, TfL accused ministers
of ignoring the problem. (Standard)           Click here to view full story…



2M Group Urges European Environment Commissioner Dimas To Take Urgent Action
Against Heathrow Pollution
6th February 2010       The 2M group is warning that the UK Government could face daily fines after allowing
air pollution at Heathrow to breach European limits. Ministers have so far taken
no action to improve air quality of the area despite previously admitting that
NOx levels around the airport were above permitted levels. They know they are
breaking EU law and damaging the health of UK citizens yet they are still hell-bent
on building a 3rd runway, which will increase pollution. (eGov monitor)       Click here to view full story…

Heathrow third runway pollution plan ‘inadequate’

 29th January 2010         The London Assembly have said there are “clear inadequacies” in pollution safeguards
imposed on the planned expansion of Heathrow.    The GLA environment committee say  measures
against the impact of a 3rd runway were not “fit for purpose”, and is concerned
no single authority would ensure BAA and airlines complied with pollution rules.
Murah Qureshi said “We would also question whether the suggested noise benchmark
is fit for purpose and if the aviation emissions targets are achievable.”     Click here to view full story…

FoI documents now prove Whitehall hid evidence on Heathrow expansion

29th November 2009         Secret documents revealed through FoI show the government colluded with BAA to
skew evidence in favour of expanding Heathrow and play down facts that could help
opponents. The government was so concerned about the content of internal emails
and memos about Heathrow expansion that it spent 18 months trying to prevent them
being revealed. BAA and the DfT relied on research that they knew would not stand
up to scrutiny – and they tried to remove evidence. (Times)       Click here to view full story…