Heathrow runway opponents launch legal challenge at the High Court to stop expansion

23.2.2010     (Guardian)   Press Association
Local councils, green groups and residents go to high court to argue that consultation
for a third runway was flawed
A coalition of local councils, green groups and residents will today mount a
legal challenge to government plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport.

The coalition’s lawyers will argue at the high court in London that the government’s consultation process for Heathrow expansion was fundamentally flawed.

The then transport secretary Geoff Hoon gave the go-ahead for the expansion in January last year, but the Conservatives are opposed to a third runway.

The coalition, which includes six local authorities, Greenpeace and the Campaign
to Protect Rural England (CPRE), will also say the expansion decision is
at odds with the UK’s overall climate change targets.

The court will also be told that there is no evidence to support the government’s
claim that there will be enough public transport to serve the new runway.

If the expansion goes ahead, the village of Sipson, close to the airport, will be destroyed to clear land for the runway.

Speaking on behalf of the local councils, Hillingdon council leader Ray Puddifoot
said: “We’ve had no choice but to go to court to sort out the mess left behind
by a decision that was little more than a quick fix. From the moment Geoff Hoon
announced his decision to the House it has steadily unravelled.”

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “It’s been clear from the
start that there has been huge opposition to this runway. Nearly 90% of the people
who responded to the consultation opposed the expansion of Heathrow. Yet mysteriously
the government gave the go-ahead.

“This gives a clear demonstration of how little they value the views of the public.
Now we’ve got the chance to submit this process to legal scrutiny. We don’t expect
the courts to be any more impressed with it than we were.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The Department stands fully behind
the decisions on Heathrow announced last year and will be defending them robustly
in court.”

Labour peer Lord Soley, the campaign director for the aviation coalition Future
told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “Frankly, people are not going to stop flying. We need to be realistic about

He described today’s court challenge as “a waste of council tax payers’ money”.
For the key points of the challenge, and more details  see   Heathrow legal challenge
Outside the High Court