Wandsworth Council, and the other councils, to challenge latest efforts by Heathrow to revive plans for 3rd runway
Wandsworth Council is poised to support fresh legal efforts to cement its recent victory over plans to expand Heathrow Airport. The airport’s owners and the construction company involved are trying and rescue the plans with an appeal to the Supreme Court. So Wandsworth has indicated it wishes to join other councils and environmental groups in guaranteeing the Supreme Court judges hear both sides of the argument. The council is seeking permission to intervene as “an interested party” due to the importance it attaches to the outcome – and the negative impact a 3rd runway would have on tens of thousands of Wandsworth residents. Being represented at the hearing would mean the council and its allies can ensure that the strong arguments against Heathrow expansion are fully aired. The government has not sought to overturn the Appeal Court ruling. The councils that brought the case – Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor & Maidenhead, together with the Mayor of London and Greenpeace – are working together on the Supreme Court case.
Wandsworth Council to challenge latest efforts by airport’s owners to revive plans for third runway at Heathrow
June 11, 2020 (Wandsworth Council)
Wandsworth Council is poised to support fresh legal efforts to cement its recent victory over plans to expand Heathrow Airport.
With the news that the airport’s owners and the construction company involved in the rebuild are to try and rescue the plans with an appeal to the Supreme Court, Wandsworth has indicated it wishes to join other councils and environmental groups in guaranteeing the judges hear both sides of the argument.
The council is seeking permission to intervene as “an interested party” due to the importance it attaches to the outcome – and the impact a reversal would have on tens of thousands of Wandsworth residents. Being represented at the hearing would mean the council and its allies can ensure that the strong arguments against Heathrow expansion are fully aired.
Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “In February those of us opposed to any further expansion of Heathrow expansion won an historic victory against plans for a third runway.
“Our case was against the Government’s decision to allow another runway to be built. And our victory was based on the undeniable fact that such an expansion would have a hugely detrimental impact on the environment.
“If the airport were allowed to expand, there would be an unacceptable impact on pollution levels and air quality. It would mean the Government could not possibly meet its legally binding carbon reduction targets.
“It should be noted that the Government has to some degree seen sense and is not seeking to overturn the ruling – but regrettably the airport’s owners and its construction partners are seeking to do just that.
“It would be wrong for us, having won such a decisive victory earlier this year, to now sit back and do nothing, and simply let events take their course, hope for the best, and refrain from resisting these new efforts to get the expansion approved.”
In its verdict in February, the Court of Appeal found that the Government had not taken into account the requirements of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change when drawing up its national policy statement (ANPS) that supported Heathrow expansion.
The councils that brought the case – Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor & Maidenhead, together with the Mayor of London and Greenpeace– had challenged the ANPS alongside environmental groups Plan B and Friends of the Earth.
In the immediate wake of that court ruling Cllr Govindia had described it as “a massive relief for Londoners and people in the Home Counties affected by Heathrow.
“It shows that no Government can expect to drive through major expansion plans without properly considering the full environmental and climate change impacts.
“It’s also a terrific win for the local authorities who have fought a long battle on behalf of their communities. If democratically-elected councils won’t stand up for their residents’ interests and protect their quality of life – who will?”
And he had added: “A new approach to airports policy is needed if we are to make best use of existing runway capacity and ensure that any additional growth is assessed in the context of climate change impacts.
“This must look at the effects on other parts of the UK which would lose connectivity if new airport expansion were to be massively concentrated in the South East and the Government’s own plans for levelling up between the South East and the rest of the country.”
For more information about how Heathrow affects the borough and the council’s efforts to alleviate those impacts visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/aviation.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot MBE, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said:
“Hillingdon Council has been fighting against Heathrow expansion for the past 20 years and was part of the coalition that defeated the Labour Government’s expansion plan 10 years ago, and I am delighted that the Court of Appeal ruled that the Airports National Policy Statement designated by the Government in June 2018 is unlawful.
“Although the Government has accepted the Court of Appeal judgment and has decided not to appeal, both Heathrow Airport Limited and Arora Holdings Ltd have applied for permission to appeal and the Council will be requesting the opportunity to make both written and oral representations in this appeal request. The proposed Heathrow expansion is realistically going nowhere now.”
Supreme Court to hear Heathrow appeal, against judgement on the Airports NPS by the Appeal Court, on 7th and 8th October
The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear an appeal from Heathrow Airport and Arora Group on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th October 2020 on the plans to expand Heathrow Airport by adding a third runway. The appeal was granted by the Supreme Court on 7th May, but the dates of the appeal were announced today. Granting of the appeal by the Supreme Court followed an earlier landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal at the end of February which stated that the government has not taken into account the Paris climate change agreement when drawing up its plans to expand Heathrow. Reacting to the news of the hearing dates, Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These dates are sooner than some expected. Perhaps because the Supreme Court is as keen to clarify this important area of developing law, as our communities are anxious to see Heathrow expansion shelved, once and for all. The sooner this misguided project is put of its misery, the better. So we welcome these dates.”
Supreme Court grants Heathrow and Arora permission to appeal against the Appeal Court ruling on the ANPS
In February, the Appeal Court ruled that the government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) was illegal, because it had not taken properly into account the UK’s responsibilities on carbon emissions, or commitments under the Paris Agreement. For a Heathrow 3rd runway to go ahead, it has to be in line with the necessary policy document, the ANPS. That document is now invalid in law, and will remain so until it is amended to rectify its deficiencies. It is for the Secretary of State for Transport to do that, but the government declined to challenge the Appeal Court judgement. So Heathrow, and Arora Holdings (the two organisations hoping to get a 3rd runway built) asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Appeal Court decision. That has now been granted, by the Supreme Court. The legal process is slow, and could take as much as a year. It will probably cost a lot of money, at a time when Heathrow is haemorrhaging money, with minimal income, due to Covid. Only a day earlier, CEO of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye admitted there would not be a need for a 3rd runway for 10-15 years. Heathrow wants this drag on and on and on …
Fresh indication that the government is not intending to support Heathrow expansion
The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe the Government has given its clearest hint yet that it will not support Heathrow expansion. In reply to a question put by Slough MP Tan Dhesi, the aviation minister, Kelly Tolhurst said that “The Court of Appeal has ruled that the designation of the Airports National Policy Statement has no legal effect unless and until this Government carries out a review”. The fresh use of the word “unless” implies consideration has been given to drop the project altogether. The DfT also state that they are focussed on responding to Covid-19 at the moment, which presents further evidence that Heathrow expansion has slipped down the agenda. The Government also say that they “are carefully considering the Court of Appeal’s judgment and will set out our next steps in due course”. However, it is unclear how long is meant by “due course”. Heathrow is struggling, with few passengers, probably having to close one or more terminals, due to restrictions on air travel for an unknown period of time, due to Covid-19. A recent review of senior staff at Heathrow shows no longer a role for overseeing expansion. Heathrow now also appears not to be pushing for the “early release” of 25,000 extra flights, as this would depend on the NPS, which has now been deemed to be invalid, by the Courts.
Heathrow expansion blocked by Court of Appeal ruling NPS illegal, for ignoring impact of carbon on UK’s Paris Agreement obligations
The Court of Appeal has ruled that the government’s decision to expand Heathrow was “unlawful”, on climate change grounds. This is one of the most important environmental law cases in this country for over a generation, and ground-breaking for ensuring carbon emissions are properly taken into account. The judgement, which sets a key legal precedent, said the government (Grayling as Sec of State for Transport) had wrongly ignored its international climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement. Such an omission was a fatal flaw to the lawfulness of the National Policy Statement, approving a 3rd Heathrow runway. Grayling had accepted flawed legal advice, implying that there was no need to consider obligations to cut carbon, through the Paris Agreement. This judgment has vital wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions. From now on, every infrastructure spending decision in the UK could face legal challenge if it doesn’t comply with the Climate Change Act, which mandates virtually zero emissions by 2050. The government has said it will not appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal found the government hadn’t considered its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement when it backed the Heathrow runway scheme in 2018