H&F Council disappointed by court decision on Heathrow

H&F Council is disappointed in the High Court’s failure to quash the government’s Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS), regarding Heathrow expansion. It argues this could bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners.

The council warns that large areas of London and the Home Counties will be affected by noise from the north-west runway. For many London boroughs it means a substantial increase in the number of communities affected.

The local authorities had argued that the third runway could only be built by demolishing thousands of homes, adding large increases in road traffic and making life noisier and unhealthier for millions of Londoners.

On Wednesday 1 May, H&F Council heard the court refused all the applications for judicial review of the ANPS essentially because it has decided that at this policy stage the decision to support a third runway at Heathrow needs only meet a low level of judicial scrutiny. 

There will be another stage where the damage caused to life and health and the environment by a third runway and its associated traffic (damage causing air pollution, noise pollution and contributing to climate change) will be more closely scrutinised. Objections to runway three must be heard then and any decision to approve it will be open to challenge through the courts.

H&F, along with the other councils which brought the action, said today that they would continue to explore every avenue possible to protect their residents from the health and environmental consequences of a third runway.

“When the Paris Accord is finally ratified it will be a game changer," said Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

“Heathrow expansion will breach the agreement which will mean that this issue has to be revisited. The government knows this and is knowingly damaging our environment.”

Image 1
Image caption: Image 1: Pictured are the coalition of local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion outside the High Court in March 2019

Further scrutiny

The councils say that any new runway would run a very high risk of breaching air quality limits and, unless air quality obligations can be satisfied, building and opening a third runway would be difficult. 

The councils argue that no government could allow a runway to be built that would damage the health of 121,000 people in the area and contribute to thousands of premature deaths.

The group of authorities has pledged to maintain detailed scrutiny of all aspects of the airport’s planning application for the runway (Development Consent Order). This will include the detail of how the airport intends to meet its obligations in key areas such as noise, air quality and surface access. This detail will be subject to examination at the public inquiry stage with potential for further challenge in the courts.

The Secretary of State’s decision in favour of Heathrow’s north-west runway proposal was challenged by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, jointly with Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. They were also joined in the Judicial Review by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.

Want to read more news stories like this? Subscribe to our weekly e-news bulletin