High court challenge over Heathrow fails
Coalition of councils claimed third runway was unlawful
AN attempt by campaigners to bring a High Court challenge against a third runway at Heathrow Airport has failed.
A coalition of local councils, including Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead, together with Greenpeace UK and a Hillingdon resident, claimed the government’s October 2016 decision to back plans for the runway is unlawful.
It alleges there was a failure to consult before resiling from unequivocal promises that it would never be built and that the government has failed to recognise the project’s unlawful air quality impacts.
Lawyers for the transport secretary argued that the judicial review could not proceed, saying it should not be heard until after the consultation on the National Policy Statement (NPS) on aviation is published in 2017/18.
On Monday in London, Mr Justice Cranston struck out the case on the basis that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim.
Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “People right across London have repeatedly voiced their opposition to any expansion at Heathrow, and our job has always been, and continues to be, to represent our residents’ views and to challenge this terrible decision to allow a third runway.
“Today’s ruling is not the end of Heathrow’s problems, it is just the first step in what will be a losing battle for them and the government, neither of which can get around the problem of unlawful air quality impacts, let alone all of the other issues it faces.
“The blatant waste of public money by the government at this time is lamentable.”
Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said: “The government has delayed the inevitable.
“The expansion of Heathrow would be the worst environmental decision of any government in modern times.
“The process in which ministers have made their decision is now proven to be inadequate, incompetent and goes back on a six-year commitment never to expand the airport. We will be a thorn in the government’s side until sense prevails.”
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “Today’s ruling was about the timing of our legal challenge, not its merit.
“It doesn’t change the fact that ministers have no solution to the huge air and noise pollution problems caused by a third runway.
“By forging ahead with a flawed consultation, ministers are just delaying an inevitable legal challenge, wasting more time, energy and public money in the process.
“Expanding Heathrow will heap more misery on thousands of Londoners already breathing illegal levels of air pollution and make it impossible for the government to comply with air quality laws.
“The government should ditch this project as they have promised to do many times in the past.”
CHALLENGE: (Top) The CGI vision of the third runweay; (above) the plan mapped out; (right) Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot