Five judicial reviews challenging the government’s plan to allow a third runway to be built at Heathrow Airport had rulings brought against them by judges yesterday (May 1).
Councils, residents, environmental groups and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan all brought the case to the High Court.
The campaigners challenged the decision taken by the government to approve the project, on the grounds that impacts of air quality, climate change and noise had failed to be adequately addressed.
It comes after MPs passed a motion declaring an “environment and climate emergency”, making the UK parliament the first in the world to do so.
Under current plans, the third runway is expected to become operational in 2026, at a cost of £14 billion.
The expansion comes after Heathrow, for the last decade, has been operating at 98% capacity.
Heathrow state the expansion is needed to “secure” Britain’s “economic future”, as currently Britain is losing out to “European competitors in the global race for foreign investment, jobs and trade.”
The High Court ruled that the government’s national policy statement of support for the Heathrow expansion was legal. The judges, however, did understand the claimants “strong and sincere views” but the hearing was in respect to the legality not the merits of the airport expansion.
One of the judicial reviews was brought forward by ‘Friends of the Earth’, citing the expansion was unlawful as it had failed to acknowledge the requirements of the Paris agreement.
Judges said: “Until parliament decides if and how to incorporate the Paris agreement target, it has no effect in domestic law.”
Craig Bennett, ‘Friends of the Earth’ chief executive, disagreed with this ruling and plans to appeal the decision. He said: “How can we take any government remotely seriously when they claim to care about climate chaos while supporting this runway?”
Chris Grayling, transport secretary, was pleased with the judgement made and said the expansion would “benefit every corner of the United Kingdom.”
Labour shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, believed that the decision had meant the government had been let “off the hook”.
However, the proposals, approved by a large majority in June last year, had the support of many Labour MPs.