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July 30, 2018

Heathrow Hub backers to start legal battle over £14bn runway expansion

The backers of Heathrow Hub, a rival project to Heathrow Airport’s expansion scheme, have launched a legal battle against the UK Government’s decision to approve the construction of a third runway at the airport.

By Adele Berti

The backers of Heathrow Hub, a rival project to Heathrow Airport’s expansion scheme, have launched a legal battle against the UK Government’s decision to approve the construction of a third runway at the airport.

According to Sky News, supporters of the Heathrow Hub scheme, which promotes the extension of the airport’s existing second runway rather than the construction of a third one, will bid to stop the £14bn plan from being realised.

In late June, the UK Parliament voted in favour of the third runway with an overwhelming majority, triggering controversy among MPs and criticism from environmental campaigners, members of the public and local residents.

However, as the airport prepares to kick off construction works, a letter received by Sky News on Friday seems to indicate Heathrow’s third runway will have to remain on hold for a while.

The letter was sent by Heathrow Hub’s lawyers, DAC Beachcroft, to the Department of Transport (DfT), and is thought to be paving the way for a judicial review of the government’s decision. It accuses the DfT of failing to provide sufficient information about MPs’ decision-making process under freedom of information laws.

In the letter, DAC Beachcroft asks for the DfT’s Airports National Policy Statement, which was initially set up to address the Heathrow expansion debate, to be suppressed on five grounds, including ministers’ lack of understanding of the capacity for new air traffic movements that the expansion of the second runway would create.

According to the company, which is being funded by the same hedge fund manager that recently managed the exploration for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, it was illegal for the DfT to “effectively [give Heathrow] a veto over the Claimant’s proposal”.

According to a Sky News source, Heathrow Hub’s legal challenge is particularly relevant as the selection process has been “rigged in favour of Heathrow Airport, which already has a dominant market position”.

This is the second legal battle that Heathrow’s third runway project is facing after receiving long-awaited approval from the government. A group of five London councils, supported by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace, started a separate judicial review process earlier this year.

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