London mayor Sadiq Khan and councils opposed to a third Heathrow runway have taken the first step towards a possible legal challenge against the plans.
The mayor and the five councils, also backed by Greenpeace, have formally notified transport secretary Chris Grayling that they intend to seek judicial review of the Government’s decision to back a new runway through the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which received parliamentary support last month.
They are challenging the Government on the grounds of ‘air quality, climate change, strategic environmental assessment including failing properly to deal with the noise consequences and surface access impacts’.
Mr Khan said: ‘When the Government confirmed it was pressing ahead with a new runway at Heathrow, I said I would immediately join the legal action brought by local authorities in opposition to the plans. This process is now under way, with a pre-application letter now submitted to the Government.
‘Heathrow expansion will result in hundreds of thousands of people being blighted by intolerable noise levels and worsening air quality in an area where pollution is already well above legal levels. The Government has failed to demonstrate how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport.’
The five councils are: Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead. They argue that the Government has ‘misunderstood and misapplied’ the law on air quality.
On the issue of surface access, the councils said that ‘amongst other things, the NPS fails to recognise the scale of the challenge to accommodate additional trips without unacceptable effects on the transport network and unacceptable effects from traffic pollution’.
A Department of Transport spokesperson said: 'As the secretary of state has made clear, we are confident in the decision-making process which led to designation of the Airports National Policy Statement, and stand ready to defend it robustly against legal challenge.'
In January 2017 the Government saw off a previous legal challenge from the councils. The High Court ruled that they must wait until the NPS was formally adopted.