By Reuters Staff
HEATHROW: SUPREME COURT TO GIVE THIRD RUNWAY THE GO-AHEAD, CLAIMS LAWYER
In ‘an act of civil disobedience,’ Tim Crosland says the airport expansion has been approved
By Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent @SimonCalder (The Independent)
The Supreme Court will approve the expansion of Heathrow airport, a lawyer involved in the case has claimed.
Judgment on challenges by environmentalists and local authorities to the planned third runway is expected at 9.45am on Wednesday.
But Tim Crosland, a lawyer representing Plan B Earth, says he has decided to break the embargo on the court’s decision “as an act of civil disobedience”.
A new third runway northwest of Heathrow’s existing pair was unanimously recommended by the Davies Commission in 2015.
It would allow an increase from 480,000 takeoffs and landings each year to around 740,000.
The government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) was voted through by a large majority in Parliament.
But a group of local authorities and environmental campaign groups challenged the legality of the NPS. In February 2020, the Appeal Court ruled that the-then transport secretary, Chris Grayling, had failed to take into account climate-change commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Boris Johnson, an opponent of Heathrow’s expansion, said the government would accept the Appeal Court’s verdict. But Heathrow Airport Ltd took the case to the Supreme Court.
Mr Crosland claims that the judgement will be overturned. In what he called a “personal statement,” he said: “This will be treated as a ‘contempt of court’ and I am ready to face the consequences. I have no choice but to protest the deep immorality of the court’s ruling.”
The case turns on whether Mr Grayling acted lawfully in applying a temperature limit of 2C warming rather than the Paris Agreement aim of 1.5C.
In his statement, Mr Crosland said: “The government was right to accept the Court of Appeal’s verdict. The Supreme Court’s judgment, which has legitimised Mr Grayling’s use of the deadly 2C threshold, has betrayed us all.”
Since the Appeal Court’s ruling, Heathrow has slumped from its long-held position as the busiest airport in Europe. The airport’s owners contend that a third runway will be needed to accommodate growth after the coronavirus crisis, but it will not open before 2030.
Take off for Heathrow’s new runway: Supreme Court will approve expansion of Britain’s busiest airport, claims lawyer ahead of ruling
Five Supreme Court Justices to rule on Heathrow Airport’s expansion tomorrow
Plan to build a third runway was declared unlawful on environmental grounds
Country’s top court is set to overturn the earlier decision, a lawyer has claimed
Tim Crosland broke a legal embargo to reveal the judge’s decision earlier today
By EMER SCULLY FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 17:47, 15 December 2020
The Supreme Court will approve Heathrow’s new runway, a lawyer has claimed ahead of the judge’s ruling tomorrow.
A panel of five justices at the UK’s highest court are set to allow Heathrow Airport to expand by building a third runway, according to Tim Crosland, a lawyer involved in the campaign against the plans.
The judges are due to rule on the case at 9.45am tomorrow but Mr Crosland decided to break a legal embargo ‘as an act of civil disobedience’.
The plans were declared unlawful on environmental grounds by the Court of Appeal in February and in October the Supreme Court heard a challenge over the Government’s decision to give the go-ahead for the third runway at a two-day hearing.
The country’s top court is set to push the plans through, said Mr Crosland.
‘I am breaking the court embargo on Heathrow to protest against the injustice of the verdict, which is a betrayal of the younger generation and those on the frontline of the crisis in the UK and around the world,’ Mr Crosland said.
Heathrow, west of London, is Britain’s biggest airport and prior to the pandemic was the busiest hub in Europe. During the crisis it lost that crown to Paris but it still wants to expand, allowing it to benefit from the post-COVID-19 travel recovery.
The new runway northwest of Heathrow’s existing pair was recommended by the Davies Commission in 2015. The airport’s capacity would increase drastically from 480,000 takeoffs and landings each year to around 740,000 if the third runway were to be built.
The judge in the ruling in February said a failure to take into account the British government’s commitments on climate change was ‘legally fatal’ to the plans.
Lawyers for Heathrow Airport Ltd told the court in October that the firm, which owns and operates the London airport, still wishes to go ahead with the expansion project.
Demonstrators against a third Heathrow runway gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, in October. A panel of five Supreme Court justices are due to determine whether the decision to support the expansion of Heathrow Airport was unlawful
But they said that construction could not be completed until 2030 at the earliest, even if work begins in the near future.
Addressing the court at the outset of the hearing, Lord Anderson QC, representing Heathrow, said: ‘My instructions are very clear on this – Heathrow Airport Ltd does still wish to construct the north-west runway.’
The firm is challenging a Court of Appeal ruling given in February which cast doubt on the future of the proposed expansion.
Three leading judges concluded that former transport secretary Chris Grayling failed to take account of the Government’s commitments to tackling climate change when setting out support for the project in an Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS).
Lords Justice Lindblom, Singh and Haddon-Cave said the ANPS was unlawful because Mr Grayling failed to take account of the Government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement – which commits signatories to tackling climate change by taking measures to limit global warming to well below 2C.
The Supreme Court will determine whether the decision to support the expansion was unlawful as a result of the Government’s failure to take account of the UK’s climate change commitments.
Lord Anderson argued that the Court of Appeal made a mistake in concluding that the Paris Agreement constituted Government policy and that the ANPS was unlawful.
The airport’s challenge was opposed by environmental charities Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth – both of which argued that the appeal should be dismissed by the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal considered the case following a challenge by a group of councils in London affected by the expansion, environmental charities including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth, and London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Following the ruling, campaigners hailed it as a victory, saying it had ‘killed off’ plans for a third runway for good and that the project is now ‘politically unacceptable’.
The effect of the ruling, which overturned a previous High Court decision made in May last year, was that current Transport Secretary Grant Shapps would have to review the ANPS to ensure it accords with the commitments on climate change.
The Government did not oppose the court’s declaration that the ANPS was unlawful and did not seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.