Comment by Plan B Earth and Extinction Rebellion, on Judges’ rejection of Heathrow legal challenges
The High Court dismissed all the legal challenges to the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow, including the claims brought by Friends of the Earth and Plan B on the grounds of inconsistency with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said: “…it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government’s reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency. The Court has upheld Chris Grayling’s surprising contention that the Paris Agreement is “irrelevant” to Government policy on climate change. It ignored the fact that the Government stated in May last year that it planned to decarbonise the economy by 2050. Instead it accepted Grayling’s argument that the CCC considers the current target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow the CCC is expected to expose the fallacy of that position by recommending that the Government implement a target of net zero by 2050,… Since that recommendation is obviously inconsistent with the expansion of Heathrow, presumably the plans will now need to be reviewed.”
High Court backs Heathrow Expansion
May 01, 2019
Joint press release on behalf of Plan B and Extinction Rebellion
Today, Wednesday 1 May, the High Court dismissed all the legal challenges to the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow Airport, including the claims brought by Friends of the Earth and Plan B on the grounds of inconsistency with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said:
“This is a disappointing judgement by the Court, but it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government’s reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency.
“The Mayor of London, the Welsh Government and more than 90 Councils have all declared a state of emergency. According to polling published yesterday two thirds of the public now recognise we are in a state of emergency and 76% would cast their votes differently to protect the planet. Acting on that emergency demands an urgent and radical reduction of emissions, which is clearly inconsistent with plans to expand aviation.
“The Court has upheld Chris Grayling’s surprising contention that the Paris Agreement is “irrelevant” to Government policy on climate change. It ignored the fact that the Government stated in May last year that it planned to decarbonise the economy by 2050. Instead it accepted Grayling’s argument that the Committee on Climate Change (“CCC”) considers the current target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow the CCC is expected to expose the fallacy of that position by recommending that the Government implement a target of net zero by 2050, in line with the Government’s express intentions. Since that recommendation is obviously inconsistent with the expansion of Heathrow, presumably the plans will now need to be reviewed.
“For as long as the Government and the Courts bury their heads in the sand over climate breakdown, and fail to safeguard the future of this country and its young people, the social contract is broken.
“Non violent civil disobedience is an urgent and necessary response and can already be seen to be working.”
Plan B is expected to appeal against the ruling.
Notes to editors:
- A total of 11 claimants (including the Mayor of London and 5 London boroughs) brought claims against the expansion. The trial was heard between 11 and 22 March. The court has dismissed all the claims.
- Although the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation on net zero by 2050 will not be formally announced until 2 May, the Financial Times has already reported on it (https://twitter.com/PickardJE/status/1122879714643914752)
- On 1 May 2018, Claire Perry MP, the Energy Minister, informed Parliament “We were the first country in the world to ask how we will get to a decarbonised economy in 2050, and I would hope that we could enjoy cross-party support for something so vital.” (https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-05-01/debates/BAD2B942-B27A-428E-87B5-6F50B699DCBE/OffshoreWindSector)
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has advised that to limit warming to the critical risk threshold of 1.5˚C the whole world will need to decarbonise by 2050. The Government has assessed that if Heathrow expands, carbon dioxide emissions from UK aviation could be limited to 37,000,000 tonnes. That is inconsistent with both the IPCC analysis and the CCC recommendation.
- On 26 June 2018, Chris Grayling, the Transport Minister, designated plans to expand Heathrow Airport as a National Policy Statement under the Planning Act 2008.
- The Planning Act 2008, s. 5(8) requires the Secretary of State to explain how any proposal aligns to Government policy relating to climate change.
- On 14 June 2018, Lord Deben and Baroness Brown, the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Committee on Climate Change (the CCC), wrote to Chris Grayling in the following terms to say: “Dear Secretary of State, The UK has a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act. The Government has also committed, through the Paris Agreement, to limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. We were surprised that your statement to the House of Commons on the National Policy Statement on 5 June 2018 made no mention of either of these commitments. It is essential that aviation’s place in the overall strategy for UK emissions reduction is considered and planned fully by your Department …”. The letter in full is published here: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CCC-letter-to-DfT-on-Airports-National-Policy-Statement.pdf
From the main judgement (P 159) on carbon emissions and the future DCO:
“631. However, in any event, we do not consider any of the specific complaints are justified. Taking them in turn:
We do not consider there is any ambiguity in the ANPS [Airports National Policy Statement] in respect of the issue as to whether the NWR [North West Runway] Scheme is compatible with the CCA 2008 [Climate Change Act] carbon emissions target. The ANPS makes clear that, like the AC [Airports Commission] and the CCC [Committee on Climate Change], the Secretary of State has assessed that the scheme is compatible with that target in the sense that it is capable of being delivered (constructed and operated) within the UK’s climate change obligations. That is all that a policy such as the ANPS could – and certainly, purported – to do. It makes clear that it is for any DCO applicant to demonstrate that the scheme as brought forward can and will be delivered within those obligations; and that any increase in carbon emissions will have no material impact on the ability of the Government to meet its carbon reduction targets. Whether a particular scheme will be so delivered is not a matter which could be considered at the ANPS stage: it is dependent upon design features including mitigation which can only be developed at the DCO stage. Mr Maurici [QC for the DfT] submitted that the ANPS was unambiguously clear in these respects. We agree.”
And in Press Summary
The claimants argued that the Secretary of State acted unlawfully by not taking into account the Paris Agreement – which seeks to hold the increase in global average temperature to “well below” 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit that increase to 1.5ºC [602 of the main document]. In making these arguments, the claimants faced an overarching difficulty which, in the event, they were unable to surmount. The Paris
Agreement does not form part of UK law and so, while the UK has ratified it , until Parliament decides if and how to incorporate the Paris Agreement target, it has no effect in domestic law . The Climate Change Act 2008 currently sets a carbon cap emissions limit. Under section 2, the Secretary of State has the power to amend that domestic law to take into account the Paris Agreement . However, the court found that the Secretary of State did not arguably act unlawfully in not taking into account the Paris Agreement; and, in any event, at the DCO stage this issue will be re-visited on the basis of the then up to date scientific position . The court held that none of the climate change grounds was arguable.”
Heathrow judicial review applications all rejected in one of the largest ever public law challenges
Comment and summaries of what the judgements said, from the Aviation Environment Federation
@The_AEF and comments from the legal challengers
For more information from Plan B Earth, contact
For Plan B
Tim Crosland 07795 316164 firstname.lastname@example.org
For Extinction Rebellion:
Phone: +447305700176, +447804743058, +447802865819; +447944894190; +447561098449; +447549766448; +447904735749; +447986671716; +447918165046; +447479234522
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ExtinctionR #ExtinctionRebellion
NEW – What emergency? https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/the-emergency/
About Extinction Rebellion:
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
UK website: https://rebellion.earth/
International website: https://xrebellion.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ExtinctionR hashtag #ExtinctionRebellion
Declaration of Rebellion: https://rebellion.earth/declaration/
Get involved in Extinction Rebellion’s other events
- In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out
- Start a group where you are – locally in the UK or in your country around the world
- Find your local group: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=11jUqqjTHMThksd4KbvGGzb3I3Cr3PkBl&usp=sharing
- Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites
- We are holding Collaborative Leadership Calls to help coach people to improve their leadership skills and capacities
- And while your time and energy are the most important things, if you are financially able to donate money, see ourFundrazr crowdfunder.
About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion is an initiative of the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion; whilst the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.
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.