Councils launch legal bid against airport expansion
Coalition bid to have decision reversed, citing the government has acted unlawfully
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.”