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11 - Mar - 2019

London Mayor, Local Councils and Activists Head to Court to Challenge Heathrow Expansion

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, local councils and environmentalists Greenpeace head to court today to challenge plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

The five legal challenges will be heard at the High Court in London. In a preliminary hearing held in October, High Court judge Justice Holgate ruled that a judicial review would hear all the challenges simultaneously.

“Lawyers representing a coalition of local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion will make the case in the High Court on Monday that the government’s Airport National Policy Statement... should be quashed,” according to a joint statement.

The challengers believe that a third runway will make “life noisier and unhealthier for millions of people living in London”.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said in the statement: “Governments are very happy to talk the talk when it comes to protecting the air we breathe and the climate we all share, but unfortunately, getting them to walk the walk often takes legal action.”

The challenging councils include Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond upon Thames and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, said: “Adding what is essentially another airport the size of Gatwick to Heathrow will significantly increase noise, congestion and pollution across west London stretching all the way along the M4 and past Windsor. There are much better projects our country can spend £18billion of taxpayers’ money on.

“Meanwhile, the Heathrow consultation appears deliberately confusing. I think they’re hoping people won’t wake up to the problems with their scheme for a third runway until it’s too late. That’s why we’re taking legal action. People deserve better.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will boost the economy, increase our international connections and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“As with any major infrastructure project, the government has been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position. We recognise the local impact of any expansion, which is why a world class package of mitigations would need to be delivered.”

A Heathrow spokesperson added: “Judicial reviews are a completely normal occurrence in infrastructure projects of this size and whilst these are being heard, we will continue to deliver on our plans and remain on-track for the third runway to open in 2026.

“We will support the Department for Transport in its response and we remain totally confident in the robust process which has taken place so far, making any legal challenge unlikely to succeed. This includes extensive evidence from the Independent Airports Commission, multiple rounds of public consultation and overwhelming parliamentary, cross party support.”

By Airport Pickups London