Ministers absent as Heathrow runway appeal is heard


Heathrow Airport has begun a Supreme Court appeal against a ruling earlier this year that the Government’s support for a third runway was unlawful.

The Government, which lost the case in February, is not participating. Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) was granted permission to appeal, while the secretary of state for transport did not seek permission and has now dropped out of the case.

An image of the airport with a third runway bottom left

The appeal is being contested by campaign groups Friends of the Earth and Plan B, whose challenges on climate change grounds were successful at the Court of Appeal.

A HAL spokesperson said: ‘Heathrow will ensure the expansion project is compliant with the UK’s climate change obligations, including under the Paris Climate Agreement, as part of our plans to reach net-zero carbon.

‘We fully expect to be held to account by government through the planning process. The Airports National Policy Statement makes clear that approval for expansion would be refused if it would have a material impact on the UK’s ability to meet its carbon reduction obligations.

‘We’re appealing to the Supreme Court to allow this thorough planning process to proceed as it was designed. Given the timescales required to deliver complex infrastructure of this scale in the UK, it’s critical that we get on with laying the groundwork today for future operations that will be essential for a successful Global Britain in the decade after Brexit.’

Jenny Bates, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘As we plan for a future in the wake of the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic, it’s key that the UK invests in low-carbon, resilient infrastructure and creates green jobs in sectors such as clean transport, renewable energy and home insulation. A new runway at Heathrow is the opposite of what we need to be building. It would lead to a huge increase in emissions and undermine the UK’s duty to fight the climate crisis.

‘Heathrow has talked up easy fixes to get the Third Runway pushed through, but these fixes rely on undeveloped technology, and ineffective carbon offsetting to make their plans appear more climate friendly.’

A decision in the case is expected early next year.


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