March 5, 2020

Third Heathrow Runway Ruled Unlawful

This post was written by: Ilinca Mardarescu

A recent Court of Appeal ruling has dealt a massive blow to the proposed third runway at Heathrow declaring it unlawful.  This was based on the fact that ‘ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s commitments to tackle the climate crisis.’

This follows growing controversy over environmental impact the plans will have especially due to the government failing to meet the Paris Agreement guideline. Environmental campaigners, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan and several of the city’s local authorities brought a legal challenge against the government’s planning decision to approve the runway in 2018.

Lord Justice Lindblom found the policy statement written by the Department for Transport (DfT) “did not take account of government policy relating to the mitigation of and the adaption to climate change”.

“The Paris [climate] agreement ought to have been taken into consideration by the secretary of state,” one of the judges said in the ruling.

“The judgement might seem like bad news for businesses and investors in the carbon economy, who will have to reconcile their plans with the 1.5˚C limit. “But really it is good news for everyone, since all of us – including businesses and investors – depend on maintaining the conditions which keep the planet habitable,” quoted UK climate change charity’s Tim Crosland in a recent statement.

Heathrow airport now says it will appeal their case to the Supreme Court quoting:

“In the meantime, we are ready to work with the Government to fix the issue that the court has raised.  Heathrow has taken a lead in getting the UK aviation sector to commit to a plan to get to Net Zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Accord. Expanding Heathrow, Britain’s biggest port and only hub, is essential to achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of Global Britain.  We will get it done the right way, without jeopardising the planet’s future. Let’s get Heathrow done.”

Finally the court said that if in the future the UK were able to propose a plan which will fit with the UK’s climate commitment then a future third runway could go ahead. For now, this is a victory for campaigners against the runway; but the Government are not giving up on their plans to see a third runway built.