Mayor of London and six Councils head to Court of Appeal over Heathrow Expansion

Six councils will be heading to the Court of Appeal to highlight a series of flaws that have been discovered in the Government’s decision to give Heathrow a third runway.

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Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor & Maidenhead Councils go to court on October 17th – where they will say that the Government failed to consider the full impact that the expansion has on the environment, noise levels and resident’s health.

The local authorities will also be joined by activist group Greenpeace and the Mayor of London who will collectively suggest that the Airports National Policy Statement should be quashed.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “It beggars belief that any UK government should think that an expansion proposal that belongs to the last century should ever be acceptable in an age when collective concern for the impacts of climate change is driving action to bear down on carbon emissions throughout the world.

“It is no less credible that Heathrow’s shareholders should expect taxpayers, passengers and indeed the airlines to continue supporting the spiralling costs of a profligate third runway that, given its inevitable failure to meet environmental standards, can never be built and never be used.”

Lawyers for the group are expected to detail exactly how the Government purposely failed to identify the entire area that could be affected by noise from a hugely expanded Heathrow.

They will argue that because the whole area was not disclosed the decision to create a third runway is invalid.

Papers disclosed in the case have also revealed that the Government was concerned that the expansion to Heathrow would be lost which is why it chose not to reveal some information about the risks that the extension truly posed.

The Government also failed to apply its own policy on noise limits.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, added: “The third runway will have devastating consequences for the health of Londoners. It is also becoming clearer by the day that expansion will play havoc with the Government’s zero carbon targets.

“The latest advice to the Government from the Climate Change Committee, which includes reduced assumptions on aviation growth, makes it clear that current planned additional capacity in London, including the third runway, is likely to leave at most very limited room for growth at regional airports.

“Heathrow’s insatiable desire for growth is bad news for airports everywhere else in the country – and bad news for people wanting to fly from their local airport. The Government should be ordered to tear up its ANPS and start again taking account of what we now know about climate change impacts and the effects of tougher zero carbon targets on the rest of the UK.”

In June 2018 it had been decided that the threshold should be 51 units of noise measurement but, this soon increased to a threshold of 54 when it came to the decision to go ahead with Heathrow’s expansion.

This increase automatically changes the number of people that are predicted to be affected by noise pollution and minimises the idea that intolerable noise can affect health.

The councils will say that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) – a process by which all detailed environmental considerations are built into plans, also failed to consider how the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) backing expansion at Heathrow related to all relevant plans – including the Hillingdon Local Plan and the Mayor’s London Carbon Plan.

They will also argue that the Secretary of State was wrong to reject Gatwick as an alternative to Heathrow on the grounds that expansion at this location might threaten a species of orchid.

The Court of Appeal will begin hearing the appeals from the councils and other groups on October 17th.

The hearings are expected to conclude on October 23rd.

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