Pre-trial hearing on 15th January of the 5 legal challenges against ‘unlawful’ Government decision to approve 3rd runway

Campaigners are taking the government to court in a bid to overturn the “unlawful” decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway. The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on several grounds. There are 5 separate legal challenges being brought by a range of organisations, on  grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents.  It would be virtually impossible for Britain to meet its obligations to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement if a new Heathrow runway is built [or for that matter, one at Gatwick either]. The Government’s advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said, without any justification for his belief, that he was “confident” that technical innovations would cut aviation CO2 emissions enough, so expansion could happen without breaking the targets. Hopes that either biofuels or electric planes would enable aviation to become a low carbon means of transport are unrealistic. 



Heathrow: Activists begin legal challenge against ‘unlawful’ decision to build third runway

‘Government should never have entertained the idea of a climate-wrecking third runway,’ say critics

The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on climate change targets.

It is one of five legal challenges against the third runway being undertaken by organisations and individuals on the grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents.

MPs approved the new development at Europe’s busiest airport in June, with the runway set to open in 2026.

In its challenge, Friends of the Earth says the decision is unlawful as it does not consider climate change and sustainable development goals.

Government advisory body the Committee on Climate Change has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

However, transport secretary Chris Grayling said he was confidentthat technical innovations would clean up the sector sufficiently so that expansion could happen without breaking these targets.

Others have dismissed these claims, pointing out that air travel has proved notoriously difficult to decarbonise.

One recent report produced by campaign group Fellow Travellers concluded that electric air travel, for example, is not likely to be implemented on a significant scale in the near future.

With this in mind, many green groups have argued that, despite demand being high, the UK simply cannot sustain any more air travel.

“The government should never have entertained the idea of a climate-wrecking third runway, with Heathrow already the UK’s single biggest source of emissions,” said Laura MacKenzie, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

“Support for airport expansion ignores the severity of the climate crisis and the harm that it is already inflicting on people and nature around the world including right here in the UK.

“The government should cancel the third runway and adopt fair and equitable policies to keep aviation demand within environmental limits, such as a frequent flier levy.”

Further challenges are coming from mayor of London Sadiq Khan, local authorities and Neil Spurrier, a resident of Twickenham.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Expansion at Heathrow 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.”

that link includes video of the announcement of the vote in the Commons in June 2018, and the dissatisfaction by Justine Greening of only 4 hours being given to  the whole debate on the Heathrow runway,.


The session is in Court 76 starting at 10.30am. Anyone coming should go through the Strand/Fleet Street entrance into the Law Courts, through security. The Info desk will be able to tell you where Court 76 is.

Tuesday 15 January, 2019
At  half past 10

CO/3089/2018 The Queen on the application of London Borough Of Hillingdon & others v Secretary Of State For Transport
CO/3149/2018 The Queen on the application of Plan B Earth v Secretary Of State For Transport
CO/2760/2018 The Queen on the application of Spurrier v Secretary Of State For Transport
CO/3071/2018 The Queen on the application of Heathrow Hub Limited v Secretary Of State For Transport
CO/3147/2018 The Queen on the application of Friends Of The Earth Limited v Secretary Of State For Transport

See also

The 5 legal challenges against a 3rd Heathrow runway will be heard over 2 weeks in March 2019

Five legal challenges against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow have reached the next legal hurdle and will proceed to a full judicial review in March 2019. Justice Holgate today (October 4th) confirmed, in a hearing at the High Court, that the cases lodged by five different parties would be heard over 10 days in March 2019.  Due to the size of the cases, amount of paperwork involved, and the public interest in the case, the hearings in March will be heard by two judges and will be heard in the largest courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was also noted that a separate courtroom may have to be used as overspill, with a TV link to the main proceedings, also due to level of interest. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These legal challenges are of the Government’s own making. It is not insignificant that the judge has permitted all five claimants to proceed to judicial review. In addition to the claim from several councils and the London Mayor, the four other claims raise some serious points of law. If the government had not ignored available evidence in their blinkered enthusiasm to expand this already highly disruptive airport, parliament would not have supported the proposal, and these actions would not have been necessary.”

Click here to view full story…


See  also:

We need live-streaming of the Heathrow 3rd runway legal challenges.  

Please sign. Before the 14th January.

The various bodies that have brought legal challenges against the 3rd Heathrow runway are trying to get lots of signatures, in order to ensure the court proceedings in March are live-streamed.

You can sign here    Before the 14th January.

The legal challenges against the Government’s decision to back a 3rd Heathrow runway, will be heard for 10 days from 11th March.  This is a key legal case, and of relevance – in terms of aviation carbon emissions – for everyone, and not just those opposing the Heathrow runway. The climate change implications are of very general interest and concern.

At present the proceedings are due to be heard in the largest court available, at the Courts of Justice. The court knows there is huge interest, so are already arranging that the proceedings are streamed into a second court room. However, that would only be to about 150 people, in total, at most.

One of the legal challengers, Plan B, have organised a simple e-action, asking that people add their names to the request that the proceedings are live-streamed, so far more people can watch, and really understand what is going on.  Plan B will present the evidence of the numbers who want to watch the hearings, live-streamed, to the judge, Mr Justice Holgate. It is hoped that he will allow this. Plan B need to know the numbers before the first procedural hearing on 15th January. So please sign before the 14th January

You can sign here   It only takes a few seconds. Please encourage others to also sign, if that is appropriate.  More details here about the legal challenges

See earlier:

Heathrow Airport expansion: Transport secretary dismisses warning that climate change targets will be smashed

Independent committee is poised to warn that soaring emissions from third runway will destroy Britain’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments

Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor  (Independent)

Monday 25 June 2018

The transport secretary is on a collision course with climate change experts after denying the expansion of Heathrow Airport will smash the UK’s legal commitments.

An independent committee is poised to warn that the controversial third runway will – through soaring emissions – destroy hopes that Britain can meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will say that UK aviation must not exceed its pre-recession peak of emitting 37.5m tonnes of CO2 in 2005, if the targets are to be hit.

Yet a report published on the department for transport website last week said aviation emissions would hit 43m tonnes of CO2 by 2030 if Heathrow expansion goes ahead.

However, Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, rejected the fears – insisting modern planes were “breaking new frontiers” by cutting fuel use, emissions and noise.

“The Airports Commission came to a very clear view that we could expand Heathrow airport and still meet our climate change obligations,” Mr Grayling claimed.

They gave it the thumbs up, they did lots of detailed analysis on this and they said ‘yes we can do this’.”

Challenged, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, on the likelihood that CO2 emissions would rise, Mr Grayling replied: “I think technology, over the next 20 or 30 years, is going to make a big difference in aviation.

“It’s happening already, if you look at the new aircraft. That’s going to make a huge difference to fuel consumption and emissions and noise at airports.”

Ministers are facing accusations that they are “fixing” the Heathrow vote, by staging it three days before the climate change committee’s report is published.

It is expected to warn that aviation and other emissions are growing so fast that homeowners and businesses may have to sacrifice gas cookers, central heating boilers and petrol cars for Britain to meet its targets.

The UK emitted 800m tonnes of CO2 in 1990 and ha pledged to cut this to 344m tonnes by 2030 and 160m tonnes by 2050 – an 80 per cent reduction.

Lord Deben, the CCC’s chairman and a former Tory minister, has written to Mr Grayling, warning of the perils of expanding aviation, The Sunday Times reported.

Labour has condemned the timing of the vote tonight, Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, calling it “outrageous”.

“MPs will be voting in ignorance of the key facts about emissions from aviation. It’s a free vote but I am recommending all Labour MPs oppose Heathrow expansion,” he said.

Environmental groups warn that expanding aviation will in effect take Britain out of the Paris agreement on climate change.

James Beard, a climate specialist at the World Wide Fund for Nature, said: “We can live up to our commitments to tackle climate change or we can build a third runway. It’s almost impossible to do both.”