Coun­cils launch le­gal bid against air­port ex­pan­sion

Coalition bid to have de­ci­sion re­versed, cit­ing the gov­ern­ment has acted un­law­fully

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A COALITION of coun­cils which have banded to­gether to pre­vent the ex­pan­sion of Heathrow Air­port have launched their le­gal bid.

The four coun­cils, en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign­ers Green­peace and a Hilling­don res­i­dents have made a le­gal sub­mis­sion to the High Court call­ing for the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to ex­pand Heathrow to be over­turned.

The au­thor­i­ties are seek­ing a ju­di­cial re­view and hope the third run­way ex­pan­sion will be aban­doned be­cause of ‘un­law­ful air qual­ity im­pacts’, ‘the con­sul­ta­tion was fun­da­men­tally flawed’, and be­cause of the gov­ern­ment’s prom­ise not to build a third run­way.

Leader of Hilling­don Coun­cil, coun­cil­lor Ray Pud­di­foot, said: “The gov­ern­ment has stub­bornly re­fused to ac­cept that it is break­ing the law on the very im­por­tant is­sue of air qual­ity in re­la­tion to Heathrow.

“[The coun­cils] have had no op­tion other than to is­sue ju­di­cial re­view pro­ceed­ings in the high court.

“In ad­di­tion to our claim that there has been a sig­nif­i­cant breach of es­tab­lished air qual­ity laws, we have also claimed that the gov­ern­ment has acted con­trary to our le­git­i­mate ex­pec­ta­tion that it would hon­our its re­peated prom­ises not to ex­pand Heathrow. It has been made very clear to the gov­ern­ment that we have fully re­served our po­si­tion in re­la­tion to other matters of com­plaint such as cli­mate change, equal­i­ties, noise pol­lu­tion and the eco­nomic case for Heathrow ex­pan­sion.

“If nec­es­sary, fur­ther le­gal pro­ceed­ings will be brought in fu­ture.”

Ministers backed the ex­pan­sion of Heathrow Air­port to in­clude a third run­way at the end of Oc­to­ber, which sparked a warn­ing from the group of coun­cils that they would take le­gal ac­tion if the de­ci­sion was not re­versed.

Hilling­don, Rich­mond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maiden­head coun­cils, along­side Green­peace, have now launched that ac­tion, but Heathrow Air­port has said it is con­fi­dent the le­gal chal­lenge will not stop the third run­way from be­ing built.

Pro-Heathrow ex­pan­sion cam­paign group Back Heathrow called the le­gal ac­tion a waste of money, and said the coun­cils should fo­cus their re­sources on pub­lic ser­vices.

A le­gal chal­lenge suc­cess­fully over­turned the Labour gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to ex­pand Heathrow in 2010, which prompted David Cameron’s in­com­ing Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion to aban­don the plan.

The au­thor­i­ties have been joined by Har­ling­ton res­i­dent Chris­tine Tay­lor, who is a co-claimant in the ju­di­cial re­view.

She said: “We lived un­der the shadow of a third run­way for decades.

“Then we were promised over and over again that it wouldn’t go ahead, and now the night­mare has started all over again.

“This is hugely un­fair on lo­cal res­i­dents, who were also promised that they wouldn’t still be suf­fer­ing the high lev­els of noise and air pol­lu­tion that Heathrow gen­er­ates.

“Many peo­ple around here have made cru­cial choices like buy­ing a home or tak­ing up a job based on ministers’ prom­ises.

“Now their life plans have been shat­tered.”

A ju­di­cial re­view is a process where courts re­view the law­ful­ness of a de­ci­sion and a judge will con­sider if the gov­ern­ment has acted law­fully in back­ing Heathrow ex­pan­sion.

If the court rules the de­ci­sion is un­law­ful, it can de­clare the Heathrow ex­pan­sion in­valid.

A Back Heathrow spokesman said: “These four coun­cils should not be squan­der­ing money al­lo­cated to them by hard­work­ing tax­pay­ers, many of whom value the pros­per­ity that Heathrow brings to the lo­cal area.”

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