Campaigners win Court of Appeal ruling over Heathrow third runway

Support us and go ad-free

Campaigners trying to block Heathrow expansion have won a Court of Appeal challenge against controversial plans for a third runway.

A group of councils in London affected by the expansion, environmental charities including Greenpeace, Friends Of The Earth and Plan B, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, brought legal action over the government’s approval of the plans.

Giving their ruling on 27 February, Lords Justice Lindblom, Singh and Haddon-Cave said the government failed to take account of its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change when setting out its support for the airport expansion in its National Policy Statement (NPS).

The UN’s Paris Agreement, which came into force in November 2016, commits signatories to tackling climate change by taking measures to limit global warming to well below 2C.

Heathrow expansion
Heathrow Airport sign

In a summary of the ruling, Lord Justice Lindblom told a packed court: “The Paris Agreement ought to have been taken into account by the Secretary of State in the preparation of the NPS and an explanation given as to how it was taken into account, but it was not.”

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The judge said that, having seen the decision in advance, the government did not oppose a declaration that the NPS was unlawful and had not sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Lawyers for the campaigners told the court at a hearing in October, when considering the proposals, that then-transport secretary Chris Grayling did not take enough account of environmental legislation or of climate change issues.

Prime minister Boris Johnson opposed the expansion of the west London airport when he was London’s mayor and promised to “lie down … in front of those bulldozers” to stop the runway being built.

Heathrow expansion row
Heathrow campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Earlier this month, he said there was “no immediate prospect” of construction beginning.

The coalition of councils, environmental campaigners and Khan appealed against a High Court ruling in May, which rejected four separate judicial reviews of the government’s decision to approve the plans.

They argued that the government’s NPS setting out its support for the project failed to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.

Support from some Labour MPs helped push through the proposals to expand Europe’s busiest airport with a majority of 296 in a Commons vote in June last year.

Heathrow expansion
A plane approaching Heathrow Airport in west London

Grayling said at the time that the new runway would set a “clear path to our future as a global nation in the post-Brexit world”.

Heathrow says it could open the third runway “between early 2028 and late 2029”.

Its previous target date was 2026.

The airport said the delay was due to the Civil Aviation Authority, which refused to approve its bid to nearly quadruple the amount it spends before obtaining final planning permission.

Campaigners gathered outside court before the ruling, from 9am.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us