Councils combine to launch High Court challenge against Heathrow third runway

Legal representatives from Richmond and Wandsworth councils joined lawyers from three other local authorities to launch a High Court challenge against the Heathrow expansion on Monday.

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The councils were joined by representatives from the Mayor of London and Greenpeace in saying the third runway, proposed in the Government’s Airport National Policy Statement, should be rejected.

The coalition, which also includes Hillingdon, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, 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 and around London, with large increases in road traffic set to make pollution worse.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “The flightpaths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised.

“This meant the health and environmental costs of the northwest runway were understated. We will urge the Court to quash the NPS. Heathrow is quite simply the wrong airport in the wrong place for this amount of growth.

“We all know the damaging health effects of this level of exposure to noise. It is simply perverse to solve one airport’s demand for more capacity by putting at risk the heath of millions of people.”

The coalition says that the Secretary of State ignored crucial facts when accepting the proposals and failed to produce an environmental report showing which communities were going to be affected by noise.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, added: “The Secretary of State kept communities across south and west London in the dark about whether they would be affected by noise. If they couldn’t know they might be affected they couldn’t be expected to respond to the consultation.”

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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