Lawyers representing a coalition of local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion have launched a case in the High Court that the Government’s Airport National Policy Statement backing Heathrow expansion should be quashed.
Five councils, along with the Mayor of London and Greenpeace, will say the third runway can only be built by demolishing thousands of homes and making life noisier and unhealthier for millions of people living in London and the Home Counties. Large increases in road traffic will make the capital and Home Counties pollution worse.
The Secretary of State’s decision in favour of Heathrow’s north-west runway proposal is being challenged by Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond upon Thames and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. They are joined in the Judicial Review by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.
“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," said Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.
“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.”
The coalition says that the Secretary of State ignored crucial facts when adopting the ANPS. This included information about surface access provided by the Mayor of London.
He failed to produce an environmental report showing which communities were going to be affected by noise. Instead he published only ‘indicative flightpaths’ which are almost meaningless.
The failure to identify the areas likely to be affected by noise from new flightpaths to a third runway meant that people in those communities could not know that they might be overflown. The authorities will argue he was required by law to identify all the areas that might be affected.
"The climate minister has admitted we're in the grip of a climate emergency," said John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK.
"The environment secretary has declared air pollution one of the biggest threats to public health in the UK. So how can ministers justify building a runway that's bound to make both problems much worse? 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 local authorities will argue that If the Secretary of State is found to have acted unlawfully, the appropriate remedy is to quash the National Policy Statement on which his decision favouring Heathrow is based. In this event the selection of the northwest runway option in preference to the other proposals – Gatwick and Heathrow Hub – must be reopened.
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