Heathrow granted permission to challenge ruling blocking third runway

Heathrow Airport endeavours to overturn the court’s ruling that the policy underpinning runway expansion at the airport was unlawful.

Heathrow to challenge court ruling

Heathrow Airport has been given permission by the Supreme Court to legally challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision that previously blocked the airport’s plans for a third runway.

Heathrow wants to overturn the ruling that the policy underpinning expansion at the airport was unlawful because it had failed to take proper account of the UK’s commitments on climate change, specifically the commitment made under the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to significantly below two degrees.

At the time, the government indicated it would not be appealing the judgment, leaving Heathrow to challenge alone.

The coronavirus crisis has caused Heathrow traffic to plummet by 90 per cent, and with the ongoing social distancing requirement, the aviation industry is anticipating a slow resumption of air travel once restrictions are lifted.

Questionable future travel demand will now add to the uncertainty about Heathrow’s ability to demonstrate that the Court of Appeal reached the wrong conclusion.

Cait Hewitt from the Aviation Environment Federation said: “Heathrow has spent decades trying – and failing – to demonstrate that the environmental impacts of a third runway needn’t get in the way of expansion. The government has accepted the Court of Appeal’s ruling that its policy on airport expansion needs to be reviewed in light of the UK’s commitment to net zero emissions. Heathrow needs to do the same.

“The UK’s recovery after the coronavirus pandemic needs to deliver positive solutions for employment and the climate. Airport expansion would lock us in to old patterns of privileging high-carbon industry over low-carbon energy and transport. With people starting to see the lifestyle benefits of using video calls to connect with work colleagues around the world, the case for a new runway being required to meet the needs of businesses has never looked weaker.” 

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