London High Court hears petitions challenging Heathrow expansion

12 March 2019 (Last Updated March 12th, 2019 11:20)

The High Court of Justice in London has started hearing cases filed by five different petitioners opposing the proposed third runway expansion project at the Heathrow Airport.

London High Court hears petitions challenging Heathrow expansion
Heathrow’s third runway expansion plan to face judicial scrutiny in London High Court. Credit: LHR Airports Limited.

The High Court of Justice in London has started hearing cases filed by five different petitioners opposing the proposed third runway expansion project at the Heathrow Airport.

One of the legal cases has been initiated by a coalition of Greenpeace, the Mayor of London and five local councils of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond upon Thames, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

The coalition claims that the Secretary of State ignored crucial facts when adopting the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). This included information about surface access given by the Mayor of London.

Arguing that the third runway will lead to the demolition of thousands of homes and make life noisier and unhealthier for millions of people living in and around London, the coalition has urged the court to quash the government’s ANPS that supports the expansion.

Richmond Council leader Cllr Gareth Roberts said: “The flight paths 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. We will urge the court to quash the NPS.”

“Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will boost the economy, increase our international connections and create tens of thousands of new jobs.”

Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot said: “The consequences of a new runway for Hillingdon residents who live closest to the airport would be truly devastating.

“More than 1,000 homes would be lost and 3,750 blighted, with older people and children who suffer from the consequences of air pollution particularly affected.”

In a separate lawsuit, environmental organisation Friends of the Earth has accused the government of taking an illegal decision to expand the third runway without making provision to mitigate climate change under the Paris agreement.

Heathrow Hub, an independent proposal to expand an existing runway, is one of numerous applicants seeking a review of the rationale behind permitting Heathrow’s own plan to construct a third runway.

The group has argued that its plan to extend the Heathrow’s northern runway would be far cheaper than the new third runway project.

Even though its plan secured support from the Airports Commission, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling scrapped the proposal.

Other claimants involved in the review include environmental justice organisation Plan B, and Twickenham resident Neal Spurrier.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will boost the economy, increase our international connections and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“As with any major infrastructure project, the government has been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position.

“We recognise the local impact of any expansion, which is why a world-class package of mitigations would need to be delivered.”