High Court judgment: ‘now is not the right time to make a final ruling on 3rd runway’

Outside the High Court

Outside the High Court

The judgment to legal challenges to the Government’s plans for Heathrow expansion were handed down on Wednesday 1 May. Justices Hickinbottom and Holgate ruled that the proposals could be challenged later in the process, at the planning stage.

The ruling will mean our campaign to stop the new runway will continue. We appreciate that many local residents feel worn down following fairly intense pressure from Heathrow Airport Ltd. (you’ve received the endless land referencing surveys no doubt, which you are under no obligation to complete!) and the Government. But now is not the time for fatigue. We are confident that we will eventually win the campaign and our area can not only be saved but prosper, without a 3,500-metre piece of tarmac.

Our reaction on the day can be found under our ‘press releases’ tab above. We also appeared in a number of media interviews. Here’s one, with Harmondsworth resident Justine Bayley, who also serves as our Treasurer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND3hjH6gFP4

You can view the judgment here, both in summary form and in full:

Below are various reactions to the news from politicians and campaigners:

Hillingdon Council Leader, Ray Puddifoot said: "As I said at the start of this legal challenge this is just the first round in what would be a long fight that ultimately we would win. Whilst the court recognised the importance of people's health and well being caused by surface access, air quality and noise issues they accepted the Secretary of State for Transport's argument that whilst there was no realistic solution to these issues at this time they could be dealt with at the next stage of the process (the Development Consent Order) and pointed out that should the Secretary of State grant a Development Consent Order it could be the subject of legal challenge on grounds of error of law.

"We remain convinced that the devastating consequences of the proposed expansion, which go far beyond the loss of over 1000 homes and 3750 blighted in Hillingdon should not have been put forward based on such a dangerous assumption. Whilst we await the view of our legal team on the next stage of this fight for the avoidance of doubt we have set aside sufficient funding to defend our environment and the health and wellbeing of our people for however long it takes to do so."

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: "Today's ruling is hugely disappointing for Londoners. It shows that the government can drive through expansion plans without properly considering the full environmental and health impacts. But it does not mean the runway will ever be built. It still faces enormous legal obstacles particularly around air pollution."

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: "This is not the end of the matter. We defeated a previous government on Heathrow back in 2010. We won then for our residents and we can win again in the future. A runway that breaches legal air quality limits simply cannot be built and opened. Nothing in today's ruling changes that.

"The local authorities have fought a long battle to protect our communities from the airport's relentless demand for growth. If democratically-elected councils won't stand up for their residents' interests and protect their quality of life - who will?"

Duncan Sharkey, Managing Director of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, added: "The underlying obstacles to this runway haven't changed. Government didn't inform communities across south and west London about how they would be affected by noise and to what extent.

"The flightpaths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were understated.

"The five local authorities which brought the challenge are all committed to defending the quality of life of local people. Few, if any, of our communities will escape noise and many will be affected seven days a week."

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: "When the Paris Accord is finally ratified it will be a game changer. Heathrow expansion will breach the agreement which will mean that this issue has to be revisited. The government knows this and is knowingly damaging our environment."

...London mayor, Sadiq Khan, is considering whether to appeal the judgement. Shirley Rodrigues, the deputy mayor for environment and energy, said: 'In challenging the decision to expand Heathrow, [Khan] stood up for Londoners who have serious concerns about the damaging impact it will have on air quality, noise pollution, existing road and rail networks, and quality of life in our city. 'We will now consider the judgement and consult our co-claimants before deciding our next steps.'

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the main concern over the ruling was allowing Heathrow - the UK's biggest carbon emitter - to expand in the middle of a climate emergency: “For as long as climate change remains an afterthought in government decisions, they are kicking our children in the teeth. Our children's future, not the aviation industry's expansion, should be our nation's number one priority. Until it is, our commitment to opposing this disastrous scheme through every avenue available will continue.”

...Speaking after the ruling, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said the decision let the government “off the hook.” He added: “What I find extraordinary in the judgment is that, on the issues with regard to climate change, the government gets off the hook simply because it has not adopted the Paris agreement into UK law.”

The Telegraph: Heathrow expansion is bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and a social injustice ...while we wait for what seems like its inevitable cancellation, billions of pounds of taxpayer's money is being wasted.

AEF say: Heathrow judicial review applications all rejected in one of the largest ever public law challenges...

Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said: “This is a disappointing judgement by the Court, but it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government's reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency. ...Plan B is expected to appeal against the ruling.”

Hillingdon Labour Group Leader Cllr Peter Curling said“We are extremely disappointed at the high court ruling on the third runway at Heathrow Airport. We believe that the environmental impact and the increasingly poor air quality is something that cannot be ignored. We will continue to fight for the residents of Hillingdon with our strong opposition to the third runway and its sixth terminal. We are determined to stop this from happening.”

BBC News: Residents... argued that the government's National Policy Statement (NPS), setting out its support for the project, failed to account fully for the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion

Independent: Heathrow ruling: High Court approves third runway despite escalating climate change crisis.

Evening Standard: ...some of the claimants had argued at a hearing in March that the plans would effectively create a "new airport" with the capacity of Gatwick and have "severe" consequences for Londoners.

BBC News: UK Parliament declares climate change emergency