Councils to pursue legal action against Heathrow expansion


A group of local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion are set to launch a legal bid for a judicial review of the Government's plans for a third runway.

Councils opposed to Heathrow expansion include the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith and Fulham. They are joined by Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.

The councils have argued that an expanded Heathrow could not satisfy air quality requirements and have objected to the additional noise and costs associated.

Heathrow third runway plans

Previous legal action against Heathrow expansion plans under Labour in 2010 was successful, and saw Lord Justice Carnwath state the public consultation process used had been invalid as it was based on out-of-date figures. 

However MPs last night approved a national policy statement under the latest proposals, which would allow the controversial £14bn expansion, setting off the potential legal action.

Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond and Hammersmith and Fulham have already confirmed to Transport Network that they will pursue a judicial review.

Windsor and Maidenhead said it was against the runway but was considering all options. A meeting later this week between officers and key council members would result in a decision on how best to proceed, with a full council vote potentially necessary depending on the costs involved, a spokesperson said.

The group has six weeks to file a challenge to the final national policy statement, once it has been designated.

Transport Network understands that hundreds of thousands of pounds has been put aside by the councils to fight their case, however the authorities did not confirm exact figures.

Giving some idea of how deeply drawn the battle lines are, one council said it would not reveal the exact number as it didn't want to give the Government any advantage.

Several councils have said they are prepared to go 'as far as it takes'.

As part of a joint statement from local authorities, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council, said: 'A third runway at Heathrow is simply untenable. This is a part of London where air pollution levels are already unlawful. The air quality will become significantly worse by adding a runway and all the traffic that goes with it. It seems that this is obvious to everyone apart from the Government.

'MPs should have used this opportunity to kill off this highly flawed project. Instead, the Government imposed a three-line whip on its MPs, and relied on other political parties for support, in order to secure the necessary number of votes in the House of Commons. In doing this, the Government has effectively prevented any democratic debate taking place in relation to a huge infrastructure project with such far-reaching consequences for public health and the environment. It is very unfortunate that MPs chose to ignore all the evidence which clearly points to the fact that a third runway is a very expensive white elephant.

'Heathrow expansion will have a devastating impact on local communities in Hillingdon. I have made this point a number of times before and it appears likely that the Secretary of State will designate the NPS during the coming weeks in order to try and frustrate, as far as he possibly can, a legal challenge being brought against his decision in the High Court in a timely manner.

For the avoidance of any doubt, this will not in any way deter Hillingdon and its partners from bringing a challenge and indeed, it will only encourage us to refer the matter to the High Court as soon as possible. The necessary groundwork for a robust legal challenge will be prepared immediately and we will, now that Parliament has failed us, do all that we can to bring this sorry saga to an end once and for all.'

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