Heathrow 3rd runway plans grounded but they could still take flight

26.3.2010   (Evening Standard)

by Nicholas Cecil, Chief Political Correspondent


As the pollution lifts over Heathrow today, plans for a third runway are grounded but not dead.

The High Court told the Government that it should take into account the latest
data on climate change, the economy and local transport before giving Heathrow
expansion the final green light.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis immediately signalled he is determined to press
ahead with the plans, which could see the number of flights at the airport soaring
to 605,000 a year and then to more than 700,000.

This may just be bravado, to avoid a humiliating retreat before the general election.
But the Government has stuck firmly to its belief that another runway, and sixth
terminal, is vital for Britain, would create 80,000 jobs and boost Heathrow’s
reputation as an air travel hub.

The High Court ruling, though, is a blow to the Government which has faced accusations,
which it denies, of colluding with airport operator BAA over measuring pollution
at the airport to justify its expansion.

With many marginal seats in London on the Heathrow flightpath, Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs were like bees around
a honeypot as they celebrated the judgment with campaigners outside the High Court.

But the Government’s committee on climate change has not ruled that a third runway
is incompatible with meeting environmental limits.

This decision means a third runway could still well go ahead — if Labour wins the election.

link to article




see also


Heathrow third runway opponents win court challenge

BBC   26.3.2010         http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8588220.stm

Campaigners have won a High Court battle over plans for a third runway at Heathrow

Councils, residents and green groups had said the government’s approval of the
runway was flawed by “conspicuously unfair” public consultations.

The group argued that the decision was at odds with climate change targets.

Lord Justice Carnwath, sitting in London, upheld their argument that the government’s
policy support for a third runway will need to be looked at again.

There is a short video clip showing Ray Puddifoot,  leader of Hillingdon Council: “This is a crushing defeat for the government”    

The decision does not rule out a new runway but calls for a review “of all the
relevant policy issues, including the impact of climate change policy”.

The Department for Transport vowed to “robustly defend” the third runway plan.

This judgment is a victory – it means that whichever party is in government they
will not now be able to force through Heathrow expansion

John McDonnell

Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington

The coalition which sought the judicial review into the government’s decision,
made in 2003 and confirmed in January last year, includes six local authorities,
Greenpeace and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The coalition said in a joint statement that the government’s Heathrow policy
“is in tatters this morning” after the judge ruled the decision to give the third
runway the green light was “untenable”.

The statement said: “If the government wants to pursue its plans for Heathrow
expansion it must now go back to square one and reconsider the entire case for
the runway.”

Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell, who has led the campaign against
the expansion of Heathrow for the last 30 years, said: “This judgment is a victory.
It means that whichever party is in government they will not now be able to force
through Heathrow expansion.”

Also video clip:   Gordon Brown: New runway is    “entirely compatible with our carbon reduction target”           http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8588220.stm  

In his ruling, Lord Justice Carnwath said: “Whether there should be a third runway
at Heathrow Airport is a question of national importance and acute political controversy.

“It is a matter on which the main parties are currently divided and which may
well become a significant debating point at the forthcoming general election.”

He adjourned the hearing until after Easter to give both sides time to consider
what formal orders the court should make.

Following the ruling, Transport Secretary Lord Adonis reaffirmed the government’s
support for expansion, stating that Heathrow Airport is currently operating at
“full capacity”.

He said: “A new runway at Heathrow will help secure jobs and underpin economic
growth as we come out of recession.

And another video clip of the celebrations outside the High Court –  as well as Lord Adonis commenting, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8589008.stm

“It is also entirely compatible with our carbon reduction target, as demonstrated
in the recent report by the Committee on Climate Change.”

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said
the new runway would “help secure jobs and underpin economic growth”.

“We are taking seriously both the concerns that people have and the need for
public consultation,” he said.

“But we took a tough decision, the right decision necessary for the future of
Britain and the economy, and a new runway will help secure Britain’s economic

But Conservative leader David Cameron said the ruling left the government’s policy
“in tatters”.

He said: “They made the wrong judgment about this, we made the right judgment.
We said the third runway shouldn’t go ahead, we were absolutely clear about that.”

The coalition against the runway had argued that there was no evidence to support
the government’s claim that there will be enough public transport to serve it.

In approving the third runway, the government had said the environmental conditions
for expansion at Heathrow set out in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper (ATWP),
relating to noise, air quality and access, could be met.

But Lord Justice Carnwath ruled the coalition’s submissions “add up, in my view,
to a powerful demonstration of the potential significance of developments in climate
change policy since the 2003 White Paper”.

He said they were “clearly matters which will need to be taken into account”
under the new national policy statement (NPS) dealing with airport expansion.

Nigel Pleming QC, for the coalition, said the “economic and environmental” position
had fundamentally changed since 2003, which raised the question of whether the
government should continue to support the expansion.

While ordering it be reconsidered, the judge refused to quash the government’s
decision to “confirm policy support” for a third runway, stating that he doubted
whether such an order would be appropriate.


map showing plans for expanded Heathrow Airport



By Richard Scott – BBC Transport Correspondent
The decision was greeted with jubilation by campaigners.

Outside the High Court they waved their copies of the judgement and drank champagne.

The decision means that at the very least Labour would have to re-run the consultation
on a third runway.

Campaigners hope that will mean that if Labour were to win the election, they
would have the perfect excuse to drop the policy.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have also opposed a third runway but
campaigners were worried that if they formed the new government they could change
their minds under lobbying from British Airways and airports operator BAA.

They think this judgment makes this less likely.

This ruling is a huge blow to Labour on one of its flagship transport policies
and they will now have a lot of thinking to do.