'Colossal gamble' warning as Govt stalls Heathrow challenge


The High Court has ruled that an attempt by an alliance of councils to challenge the Government's backing for a new Heathrow runway must be put on hold.

Four local authorities, Greenpeace and a local resident were told that their bid for a judicial review of Heathrow expansion must wait until after designation of a National Policy Statement (NPS) on aviation, anticipated in 2018.

What an expanded Heathrow might look like

Council leaders pointed out that the Department for Transport’s (DfT) successful bid to delay their challenge does not concern the merits of their case - only the timing of the process.

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said: ‘The Government has taken a colossal gamble by delaying this legal action for at least a year. The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality.

‘Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting so they should face this challenge now or abandon the third runway.’

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: 'Expanding Heathrow will heap more misery on thousands of Londoners already breathing illegal levels of air pollution and make it impossible for the government to comply with air quality laws. The Government should ditch this project as they have promised to do many times in the past.'

Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where prime minister Theresa May has her constituency, said the council respected the decision of the courts and would now participate in the forthcoming public consultation.

The coalition, which also includes Hillingdon and Richmond councils and a Hillingdon resident, argued that local residents should not have to face another period – perhaps years - of uncertainty over a scheme which they claimed will never get planning permission.

In October, ministers confirmed support for a new runway, the scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft NPS for consultation and a commons vote next winter.

A DfT spokesperson said: 'We welcome the judgment striking out the application for judicial review. It means the Government can now focus on successfully delivering a full and fair consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement, taking into account the responses we receive which will help shape the final policy.'



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